NJ school elections delayed

NJ school elections delayed
Posted on 10/30/2020
River Vale Vote delayed

The River Vale Board of Education had planned to seek voter approval for school improvements in January 2021. However, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order to delay January school elections because of pandemic-related health concerns. 

The Board will return to discussions of when to ask for the voter permission that would be necessary to accomplish critical school improvements. The earliest the election, also known as a bond referendum, could be held is March 2021.

Proposed projects that focus on health, learning and logistics include:

  • Air conditioning in areas of River Vale schools that currently lack it. Climate control would support academic focus, and provide relief for allergy and asthma sufferers. The opportunity to install centralized A/C would be a more efficient option than adding window units one at a time, and also would allow for fresh air exchange.
  • Strategic construction to create more a more effective, less congested layout at Holdrum Middle School, and targeted renovations to make better use of existing space at all three schools. Much of the work would focus on creating flexible classroom space that would let students learn outdoors; and wellness centers to provide room for healthy student activities such as yoga as well as much-needed outlets for students struggling with stress and anxiety.
  • Clearly marked main entrances for all three schools. Extended canopies would provide additional shelter and more lighting for afterschool activities.

The projects were proposed following a comprehensive Physical Needs Study of all district buildings. But River Vale also wanted to hear input from teachers – those who are most familiar with students’ in-school experiences. Feedback from those teachers shaped a proposal that prioritized students’ emotional and physical wellness.

The Board is planning for a bond referendum because the significant improvements could leverage state aid, instead of being paid for entirely through local taxes. Also, the timing is favorable because the district has just finished paying off the debt from a 2000 referendum, and could make a new investment with minimal taxpayer impact.

As the state continues to deal with the effects of the pandemic, we anticipated a potential delay to the school election date. But it does not change the Board’s ultimate plan or its resolve to address the most critical needs of River Vale students.

We invite the public to learn more about the bond proposal and watch for updates at RiverValeSchools.com/Vote.

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