Montclair school district’s November bond referendum may be delayed
(KATE ALBRIGHT/FILE PHOTO)
The Montclair school district’s plan to place a bond referendum on the November ballot for a $188 million capital improvement project to repair and upgrade Montclair school district facilities may be delayed.
The district is still awaiting information from the state Department of Education about what percentage of the proposed capital improvement plan would be eligible for reimbursement.
The district originally expected the reimbursement information from the state by Aug. 5, and when it was not provided by that date, schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds told Montclair Local the district asked for the information by Friday, Aug. 26.
As long as the state provided the information by Aug. 26, the district would “be on schedule for the bond proposal to be on the ballot in November,” Ponds said.
But as of Wednesday, Aug. 31, the information has not been shared, Ponds told Montclair Local.
“We did not receive the NJDOE’s decision on how much aid for which we are eligible by August 26 as they are still in the internal review process,” Ponds said. “We expect to learn of the NJDOE’s decision in the coming days.”
Department of Education spokesman Michael Yaple said Aug. 23 he would check into the delay. He has not yet responded to messages sent since asking for an update.
District administrators and board members are “still hopeful” that the district can meet the deadline for placing the question on the ballot in the November election, Ponds said. The district has planned to prepare the bond question, as it will appear on the November ballot, for approval at the Sept. 7 board meeting.
The deadline to submit a public question for the November ballot is Sept. 9 by 4 p.m., a representative of the Essex County Clerk’s Office said.
If the information from the state is not provided in time to meet the deadline, the district will call for a special election, Ponds said Wednesday.
A board of education in a Type II district, such as Montclair, can call a special election only on the fourth Tuesday in January, the second Tuesday in March, the last Tuesday in September, or the second Tuesday in December, according to state statute. The board must provide the county clerk with no less than 60 days’ notice, the statute says.
“Upgrading our facilities and enhancing our educational spaces is key to ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff which is our utmost priority,” Ponds said. “We are fully committed to our community investment/bond referendum as it will provide for the best teaching and learning environment for our students, staff and families.”
The state is expected to cover between 28% and 38% of the cost of the bond, said Eric Scherzer, the Montclair Board of Education’s finance and facilities committee chair.