WESTFIELD, NJ—In a special election held September 24, a majority of Westfield voters said “no” to the nearly $17 million bond referendum that would have led to replacing most of the district’s aging roofs and to turfing and lighting a multi-use field at Westfield High School. If voters had said "yes," the average assessed Westfield home’s annual tax bill would have increased by $45 next year.
The referendum was defeated 3,874 votes no to 1,508 votes yes. According to the school district, both capital projects have been on the district’s facilities priority list for many years. School districts depend on bond referendums for major capital projects, which are outside the realm of school operating budgets because these are subject to a 2 percent state cap.
In response to the vote, Margaret Dolan, Superintendent of Schools said, “Thank you to all who took the time to vote today. The elected members of the Westfield Board of Education have always taken their responsibilities to the students and the residents of Westfield to heart. The current Board of Education continues this tradition. Our 6,300 students benefit from the decisions that are made on their behalf. The Facilities Committee of the Board of Education will meet to readdress the needs of our buildings and fields.”
Board of Education President Richard Mattessich added, “On behalf of the Board of Education, I would like to thank those voters of Westfield who took an active part in coming to the polls today and to the many who attended our meetings, watched our videos and TV broadcasts, sent us e-mails and read information on our website. As Bond Referendums are an accepted method that our government has established for school districts to fund major capital projects, so is the establishment of a democratic election. The Facilities Committee of the Board will convene to determine our next step. In the meantime, thank you to those who did acknowledge that our proposals for improving our facilities for the children of Westfield were worthwhile. The results of this referendum will obviously weigh heavily on our thinking.”