New referendum proposal could cost taxpayers upward of $146.1 million

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Aug 27, 2018

MONROE — School board members advanced measures to hold another referendum in March after a $68.8 million public proposal to build a second middle school was narrowly defeated earlier this year.

The two resolutions OK’d at the Aug. 22 Monroe Township Board of Education meeting allow the district’s architect, DIGroupdArchitecture, and legal firm McCarter & English to take the necessary steps to get state approval and secure funding for a planned referendum on March 12, 2019.

This time around, however, board members will present two options for voters. Voters will decide on building a second middle school that would cost approximately $75.6 million or a combined high school and middle school project that would cost $146.1 million. The high school project would add an addition to the building. No official referendum question has been approved.

The dual option for the referendum is meant to give voters a choice on what they feel is affordable, acting Superintendent Robert Goodall said on Monday.

“We’re an entire community here. It’s not just parents of the school children,” Goodall said. “We feel that by putting out two questions for the referendum it gives a choice of how people are willing to support the school district.”

Goodall said the two options were based on community feedback through conversations and an online survey that was launched after the March referendum for a second middle school failed.

“Some felt we should do both,” he said. “I think this addresses both needs.”

The district says a second middle school is needed to address overcrowding. It projects that over the next five years an additional 1,500 students will enroll, with the largest increases coming to the middle and high schools.

In the meantime, the district installed temporary classroom trailers at the middle school to address overcrowding. Though those structures have come under fire because of their proximity to Perrineville Road.