Bond Referendum Update: Voters Deny the Bond Referendum for Montville Township Public Schools
Pending official results, current numbers show that voters say no to both questions on the ballot for the MTPS bond referendum. For Question 1: the vote count shows 1,790 against and 1,455 in favor. For Question 2: the vote count shows 1,723 against and 1,508 in favor.
These numbers account for the votes submitted at in-person polls on Tuesday, Dec. 12 and mail-in ballots received by the same date. Numbers will be updated as officials at the Morris County Clerk’s Office continue to verify additional mail-in ballots and any provisional ballots.
Updates will be reported on this website.
The MTPS Board of Education and administration thanks every single voter who took the time to learn about the details of the referendum and cast a ballot in this public vote. The Board welcomes feedback from our community as it further discusses alternatives to address the needs of our district.
A Turning Point for Montville
Voters strongly supported a 2017 referendum that improved gyms, restrooms and media centers, and upgraded some HVAC systems and roofs. At the time, additional space was not an identified need, so that investment did not add space to any school.
Now, rising enrollment and additional building needs have brought Montville Township to a turning point.
Through diligent research over the past few years, the Board of Education unanimously decided a bond referendum is the fiscally responsible next step toward funding key school projects to address over-capacity enrollment, needed security initiatives and aging heating and cooling units.
MTPS worked with staff and expert consultants to develop a proposal that maximizes the opportunity for state aid and minimizes the impact on local taxes. Through a voter-approved bond referendum, qualified projects are eligible for state funding that is not available through any other means. Without that, projects funded within the regular budget mean local taxes cover 100% of the costs.
A bond referendum is a key piece in a strategic approach to manage expenses and reduce local costs for taxpayers.
The Montville Township community will vote Tuesday, Dec. 12 on two proposals designed to continue our path of quality education. Together, they ask for permission to borrow $70 million for an expansion/improvement plan that could capture $9.5 million in state aid.
Video: Space Needs - In About a Minute
Video: Building Needs - In About a Minute
Video: Funding Plan - In About a Minute
Our elementary schools need space now. We are already above capacity, and more students are expected because of natural population growth and new housing developments.
Regardless of enrollment numbers, today’s teaching also requires more small-group instruction and added flexibility for large, multi-purpose rooms.
Security is always a focus, and additional upgrades could be made more quickly with upfront funding from bonds. These include two-stage vestibules at five schools; the regular operating budget is already funding the construction of those at two others.
Security vestibules are proposed for MTHS, Hilldale, Valley View, William Mason, and Woodmont. A security vestibule was built at Robert R. Lazar Middle School in summer 2023 and one is targeted for completion in spring 2024 at Cedar Hill Elementary School.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in some of our schools have reached the point of energy inefficiency and risks for repairs. Replacing them through bond funding is a way to capture state aid that is only available with voter approval. For instance, HVAC replacements at Robert R. Lazar Middle School are estimated to cost $4.5 million, and state aid is committed to paying $1.5 million of that cost.
Replacing aging heating units with new heating and cooling technology (HVAC) would provide high efficiency, increased filtration and energy savings.
Renovations will include the creation of small-group instruction spaces in each elementary school. These spaces would provide additional educational support for students by allowing for personalized feedback that students can then apply in larger instructional settings. Also proposed is a new parking lot for William Mason Elementary School, where an addition at that site would take the place of the existing lot. The parking lot at Woodmont Elementary School would also be altered as grass along one driveway is converted to parking spaces.
Renovations would support student success by enhancing the educational environment of small-group instructional areas.
What is a Bond Referendum?
A bond referendum is a vote in which a school district seeks permission from voters to borrow money through the sale of bonds. Property taxes are used to “buy back,” or pay for this method of borrowing as payments are spread out similar to the way a consumer uses a home improvement loan.
This kind of upfront funding would let the district manage large-scale improvements that would be difficult to cover through the regular operating budget.
On the Ballot
Question 1 on the Dec. 12 ballot focuses on added space and renovations. Question 2 focuses on better security and improved HVAC systems. Question 1 must pass for Question 2 to pass. If voters reject Question 1 but approve Question 2, neither proposal would pass. This website contains more details about the Projects and Funding associated with each question.
Our proposal focuses on space and building necessities. A referendum is a strategic way to fund these practical projects because it’s the only route to a dedicated source of state aid, if voters approve. While taxpayers across New Jersey pay into this fund, only districts with an approved referendum can bring some of the money back into the community.
The improvements proposed in Question 1 and Question 2 are estimated to cost $70 million total. The Board of Education will draw nearly $6.6 million from the district’s Capital Reserve – a sort of savings account – to contribute toward Question 1 projects. State aid of about $9.5 million would further reduce the share of that amount that local taxes would pay.
After state aid is factored in, the local tax impact is projected to be about $326 per year for Question 1 projects and $84 per year for Question 2 projects. Those amounts are based on a 25-year payback that would start in the 2024-25 school year, and on a property assessment of $533,572 which is the mathematical average of a home in Montville Township.
Details about the costs of these improvements are on the Funding page.
Click on the buttons below to learn more about the December 12 bond referendum.