District to hold meeting tonight about new middle school proposal

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2,  Feb 15, 2018 | MonroeNow

The school district continues its efforts tonight to keep community members informed about the proposed $68.8 million referendum question to build a new middle school.

At 7 p.m., community members can attend the latest public meeting being held at the Monroe Township Middle School, 1629 Perrineville Road, to discuss the details. The meeting will also be live-streamed via the district’s Facebook page.

“We are trying to get as much information as possible out to the community,” Monroe Township School District Superintendent Michael Kozak said on Thursday. “… We are doing everything we can to get the information out.”

The district has scheduled 11 meetings to discuss the referendum, and has used various methods to inform residents about the plan’s scope including social media, a static website page and newsletters.

Related: Monroe residents to decide on $68.8 million bond referendum

“Our first Facebook Live, I think, we reached about 2,900 people and we had only about 10 people in the audience,” Kozak said. “We are finding that video streaming is expanding our reach. Plus people can submit their questions. We are trying to get as much information out as possible.”

The Township is facing is increased student enrollment. Over the next five years. District officials estimate enrollment will increase by 1,500 students. The $68.8 million plan for a new middle school is just phase one, Kozak said, because in the future the district will have to address a possible addition to the high school and a new elementary school.

At this time, however, the main focus is adding a new middle school. If approved by voters on March 13, the new middle school will at a minimum accommodate essential needs for students and staff. The 35-acre lot would also allow for expansion as student enrollment increases.

“The district has passed at least two referendums in the last 10 years,” Kozak said. “The community has been growing since the 1990s. The growth has been continuous for a long period of time and it’s going to continue for the next five to 10 years.”

For homeowners, the plan would amount to approximately $129 per year increase during the life of the bond on a house assessed at $312,219. The district will receive $7.1 million in debt-service aid from the state to help reduce the financial burden.

The proposed 3-story, 152,315-square-foot building would double student capacity for Grades 6-8. “The design provides a parity of academic, athletic and extra-curricular spaces supporting district-wide fairness in facilities and opportunities,” according to district’s referendum page.