Springfield Public Schools to have March 14 bond referendum

SPRINGFIELD, NJ — The Springfield Public Schools board of education will ask the community to vote on Tuesday, March 14, on a $32.9 million bond referendum that would fund vital infrastructure upgrades, building repairs and renovations, and safety and security updates. State aid that is available only through a voter-approved bond referendum would cover 33 percent of the cost of the projects and help keep the tax impact to a minimum.

Springfield Public Schools did a thorough review of its infrastructure to identify the most pressing projects, focusing on student safety as well as infrastructure and efficiency.

“Now is the time to make critical infrastructure upgrades in our buildings to support the strong academic environment we have worked with the community to create for our students,” said Superintendent of Schools Rachel Goldberg. “The combination of state aid from the bond referendum and retiring current debt would give us the opportunity to make these important improvements with no additional tax for question 1 and only a slight tax increase for question 2.”

The district worked with advisers to choose projects that would both meet district needs and maximize state aid. The projects have been broken down into two questions on the ballot. Because existing debt from previous improvements is scheduled to retire, the first question would be tax neutral, meaning there would be no new school debt tax increase for residents. For question 2 on the ballot, taxpayers would see a slight increase of less than $8 in the debt service tax levy for a home assessed at the township of Springfield’s average of $553,097.

The proposed improvements center on student safety and infrastructure improvements, which the district considers critical to providing students with school buildings that are safe, secure and comfortable.

The first question includes funding, with no tax increase, for:

• Safety and security upgrades, for all five buildings, that are the new standard in schools, including cameras that capture better-quality footage, are motion activated and connect to a cloud-based video system that police and school staff can access during emergencies, and new exterior doors with ballistic glazing for added protection.

• New heating and ventilation for classrooms, as well as air conditioning for larger spaces, such as cafeterias, gyms, and media centers, and electrical systems that would support these system upgrades.

• Bathroom renovations to improve plumbing and sewer systems, and the upgrade of older bathroom fixtures to more efficient ones.
The second question serves to extend the scope of the work in the first question and includes funding, with a slight tax increase, for additional projects:

• Air conditioning upgrades for classrooms at each of the five district schools.

• Heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to art and music rooms as well as some conference rooms and bathrooms.

• A backup boiler for Thelma L. Sandmeier School.

• Refreshing the gyms at Jonathan Dayton High School and Florence M. Gaudineer Middle School by replacing the windows with translucent panels to support consistent temperatures without minimizing natural lighting.

The district will use various means to educate voters, including a dedicated website, springfieldschools.com/referendum, and social media and bond referendum forums. Residents can also send questions to [email protected].

“Investing in our schools is an important way to invest in our whole community. People move to Springfield for the great schools,” said board member Hector Munoz. “The bond referendum will support our schools to provide our current and future students and residents with comfortable and safe spaces for teaching, learning and sharing in community.”