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Debate Continues Over School Referendum

Board members doubt voters would approve school spending request

School board members debated at a meeting this week whether Brick residents would vote in favor of a referendum aimed at improving school facilities in town.

The board will eventually have to decide whether a referendum is necessary – or feasible – to complete a number of improvement projects at township school buildings, ranging from new boilers and chillers to new windows and other building features. Board members can chance floating a referendum to fund such projects, which would have to be approved by voters, or go forward with an Energy Saving Improvement Program, or ESIP, which would not require a referendum or large capital outay.

Board President Sharon Kight has explained that under the ESIP program, a company that would install, for example, a boiler, might pay upfront costs, with the district paying back the company based on the difference in utility bills. Companies participating in the ESIP program guarantee school districts that even if money is not saved, the company will take the loss rather than the district. Effectively, the energy savings pays for the new equipment over the course of a maximum of 15 years, according to program regulations.

A referendum would require a taxpayer-funded share of $11 million to complete about $19 million of construction work. The state would pick up the remainder of the cost through Regular Operating District, or ROD, grants.

Jim Edwards, the district's business administrator, said from a business perspective, more money could be saved by funding projects through a referendum since energy savings could be realized after a fewer number of years, but it could be difficult to get voters on board. Edwards estimated referendum boding could be paid back in seven years, rather than the 15 it would take to realize savings from the ESIP program.

"The payback is quicker because the state is paying for 40 percent of the ROD grants. Is it worth going out for a referendum? Would the community support it? I guess you'll have to go through that in your heads and see," Edwards told board members.

"A referendum, as you all know, is definitely the biggest con to doing the ROD grants," he said.

Board vice president John Talty said he had his doubts about whether a referendum would pass.

"In my opinion, I don't think this town would support a referendum," he said. "If you put it out there, and it [doesn't pass], you're just behind."

Board member Larry Reid agreed.

"Maybe it's more efficient to buy the car, but if you don't have the money, you have to lease it," he said. "If you think people are going to come up with another $11 million they don't have, forget it. People aren't saying, 'tack it on, we need new taxes.'"

Board member Kim Terebush said that both paths should be investigated as the board continues on toward a final decision.

"I keep hearing … why are the schools in such bad shape and what are we doing about it?" she said. "The possibility of the payback from the seven years out can help us take the money we would've put out and utilize that in another direction."

Kight directed Edwards to continue work on a bid request for work on a project with ESIP funding. No decision was made on holding a referendum.

Jim January 14, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Public education is a waste of money. They focus on social engineering not education. Look at how stupid our kids are today despite the increase in funding. This is the fault of public education not the tax payers. Kids today are better off with an apprenticeship than have their minds polluted by the idiots teaching public school. The public educators are fulfilling the agenda of the dept of education. Hows that working out?
John C January 15, 2012 at 06:06 PM
It is a shame that the prior members of the Board allowed the school facilities to run down to such poor shape. If they had been maintained properly under Mr Woska, we might not have such excessive projects now. I commend the current Board under President Kight for seeking new ways to accomplish what needs to be done with out burdening the taxpayers.
Denny D January 16, 2012 at 12:12 AM
The heating system, windows and bathrooms in Brick High School are the original ones since 1958. Brick has always been known as a "bare bones" school district. Lots of finger pointing will not solve the problem. Maybe it would be a better idea to approach this in a positive manner.
ateacherwhoteaches January 16, 2012 at 04:00 AM
For Jim "Kids today are better off with an apprenticeship than have their minds polluted by the idiots teaching public school" How DARE you insinuate that teachers who give hours and hours of dedication, fortitude and their life's blood are idiots. You are obviously a bitter individual that does not know the value of an education, nor can you appreciate the hard work and seriousness of today's educators. Yet, while you have your maligned opinion, hundreds of teachers will spend 50-60 hours per week making sure that the students that are under their care receive the best education possible on top of buying them lunch, supplies, clothing and other items that their parents/ guardians can not afford. They will continue to want the best for their students and stay after school, give up their lunch periods to make sure that students understand concepts. They will attend sporting and other extracurricular events to show support for their students while taking time away from their own families. You know what, maybe you are right. maybe we are idiots. Because while we do all that for the salary we do, we then get to be berated by individuals who have not one iota of an idea what it is like to dedicate your life to trying to better the world. Teaching is a true vocation. And teachers give their life to children in order to try and make the world a better place,. Shame, Shame, Shame on you and your kind.
MD January 20, 2012 at 07:22 PM
MD I can not believe that we are still arguing about something that absolutely needs to be done. Brick HS is a disaster. My daughter graduated last year and while she had a great HS career she did not enjoy waiting to go to the bathroom until she came home at the end of the day because there was no toilet paper or soap available to her, or freezing in one classroom and sweating in the other or worrying that the ceiling would fall on top of her head etc. The school is in desperate need of renovation. I hope it can get done before my younger child gets there. Stop the nonsense and lets get it done, our taxes will go up either way.

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