Montclair school district continues to wait for bond reimbursement information from state
The Montclair school district expected to hear back from the state by Aug. 5 about what percentage of a proposed $188 million capital improvement plan to repair and upgrade Montclair school district facilities would be eligible. But the information has yet to be provided.
Schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds says the district has asked for the information from the state by Friday, Aug. 26, according to a message shared with Montclair Local and posted to the district’s website.
And as long as the state Department of Education provides the information by Aug. 26, the district “will be on schedule for the bond proposal to be on the ballot in November,” the message says.
Department of Education spokesman Michael Yaple has not yet responded to an email sent Tuesday asking about the reason for the delay.
The proposal includes work at 15 district facilities, including schools, the administration building and the Aubrey Lewis Sports Complex, with work separated into two categories, infrastructure and educational enhancements, and broken up into 11 project types.
The plan is to bond in three parts over five years. Under a previous proposed total — $190 million — the tax impact to the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $628,000 would pay an estimated $320 increase in taxes the first year, rising to $870 per year by the fifth year. An updated tax impact has not been provided to Montclair Local.
The state is expected to cover between 28% and 38% of the cost of the bond, according to Eric Scherzer, the Montclair Board of Education’s finance and facilities committee chair.
“This proposal is designed to address very significant school facility needs regarding health and safety, code requirements and educational adequacy,” Ponds said in the message. “We have met all timelines for requests of information.”
The applications were due to the state May 5 in order to place the $188 million referendum question on the November ballot. If the community votes in support of the referendum question, Parette Somjen Architects will then draw up plans, the district will begin seeking bids for services, and construction would be expected to be underway by summer 2023, Scherzer said at a July 25 board meeting.
The district received reports that its applications to the state were received and some minor questions were sent to the architects, Scherzer said at the board meeting.
“The Department of Education has been slightly delayed in asking their final questions, hopefully not in sending their preliminary approvals to the board,” he said.
Once the aid information is provided, the district will prepare the bond question, as it will appear on the November ballot, for approval at the Sept. 7 board meeting, Ponds said in the message.