Deptford School District proposes $37.6 million bond referendum

By Andrew Turco, December 4, 2019 to The Sun Newspapers

Residents will be able to vote on the plan on January 28

Deptford Township School District recently released a public proposal for a $37.6-million bond referendum that would replace existing mercury-infested floors at multiple schools and move sixth-grade classes to the district’s middle school, among other things. .

Design is by Garrison Architects of Bellmawr.

Vote

The district on Nov. 22 released a Facebook video introducing the plan, as well as an architectural presentation, flyers, an outline of the project and a tax calculator for residents on its website. 

The NJ Department of Education, under debt service aid programs, is expected to cover $8.8 million of the total cost, leaving the local share at $28.7 million. The district was not able to provide information on the bond amount or when the existing bond will retire, nor on what the tax impact would be if the vote was defeated. 

The estimated tax impact is based on a bond amount of $37,616, including state aid for debt service at 20.09 percent, a bond term of 30 years and a borrowing rate of 3.50 percent, according to the district.

The tax impact on the local average assessed home of $180,143 is $17.38 per year, according to the district. Residents will be able to vote on the plan Jan. 28, from 1 to 8 p.m., at Deptford High School, 575 Fox Run Road. 

The bond will allow for replacement of mercury-infested floors at Central, Pine Acres and Shade Lane schools. 

“We decided that the bond would be the best method to go about fixing those (the floors)  responsibly, without cutting programs,” said Louis Randazzo, district director of communications.

With the state paying a percentage of eligible costs and borrowing rates being at historic lows, the district thought it would be a good time to include other needed school improvements as well.  

The plan also proposes moving sixth-grade classes from four different elementary school settings to Monongahela Middle School. Sixth-grade students are currently housed at four elementary schools throughout the district, sharing the halls with grades two to five. 

The district is only one of two in Gloucester County that has sixth grade in its elementary school. The move would allow sixth-grade students to participate in special curricular and extra-curricular activities, which are limited at the elementary level, according to the district.  

“It (the transition) better prepares our scholars for the high school experience,” said Superintendent Arthur Dietz. “It allows them to change classes; it allows them to have different teachers and different instruction techniques.” 

New construction at the middle school is also being proposed in order to make room for sixth graders. Building additions would include 16 new classrooms, two new science labs, an auxiliary gym, a cafeteria and a new main office, as well as the new central district office. 

Residents can attend public board meetings on Dec. 17 and Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the Blackwood Terrace Administration Building to hear more about the projects.

Residents can also email questions or comments to randazzo.l@deptfordschools.org. To find out more about the projects, visit www.deptfordschools.org.

 

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