Montclair School Board expects to hear from the state soon about bail refund

The Montclair Board of Education expects to hear from the state this week on the percentage of a project A $188 million capital improvement plan to repair and upgrade facilities in the district will be eligible for reimbursement.

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 improvements, and broken down into 11 types of projects.

Parette Somjen Architects has prepared 25 applications to submit to the state Department of Education for the district’s proposal, Eric Scherzer, chairman of the council’s finance and facilities committee, said at the May 4 council meeting. .

Applications were to be submitted to the state on May 5 to place the $188 million referendum question on the November ballot. If the community votes in favor of the referendum question, Parette Somjen Architects will then develop plans, the district will begin seeking service offers, and construction should be underway by summer 2023, Scherzer said.

The district has received reports that its state applications have been received and some minor questions have been sent to the architects, Scherzer said during a July 25 meeting.

The Ministry of Education has been slightly delayed in asking its final questions, hopefully not sending its preliminary approvals to the board,” he said.

Preliminary approvals, indicating what percentage of each project’s cost will be reimbursed by the state, are expected by Friday, August 5, Scherzer said July 25. The state should cover between 28% and 38% of the cost of the link, he said.

“This is a critical opportunity that will reduce the cost of the long-term facilities plan to ratepayers by approximately one-third,” he said.

Once the district knows the state’s reimbursement level, it will reconsider the proposed projects before filing with Essex County for a bond vote in November.

“During the month of August we will have crucial decisions to make,” Scherzer said at the May 4 meeting.

The plan is to bind in three parts over five years. Under the previously proposed total — $190 million — the tax impact for the owner of a home valued at the township average of $628,000 would pay an estimated $320 increase in taxes in the first year, rising to $870. $ per year in the fifth year.

After reimbursement information is provided by the state, the council will provide “educational information” about the link to the Montclair community, Scherzer said.

“I hear there are efforts underway in the community to support the passage of the link, but this is an effort that the council, as a public body, cannot undertake alone,” said he declared. “The council as a body can educate but not defend.”

Speaking on his behalf and not on behalf of the board, Scherzer said he “strongly” encourages community members in favor of the link “to come together quickly and begin the advocacy work that will support it. “.

HVAC upgrades are planned for 13 of the district’s 15 facilities, with the largest upgrade for the main Montclair High School building and the George Inness Annex, totaling nearly $28.5 million. Eight schools would receive new boilers and upgrades to electrical services.

Roof replacement and minor repairs, including trim replacement and masonry work, are planned at eight facilities, but Hillside School’s repair budget is the largest – nearly $5.4 million. for roof replacement and masonry repairs.

Further infrastructure repairs and upgrades are planned for 10 facilities. This category covers a wide range of projects, including replacing stairs at Buzz Aldrin Middle School, new security cameras at MHS, and renovating a nurses’ room at Watchung School.

Improvements for practical and performing arts would be made at six schools, but the majority are planned for high school, with a new auditorium and renovations to culinary and industrial arts classrooms included in the plans.

Six gymnasiums would undergo renovations, including a brand new gymnasium for Renaissance at Rand Middle School.

Science and classroom upgrades, the second largest category, would occur at eight schools, including science lab renovations at Glenfield Middle School, a library renovation at Hillside School and furniture upgrades at Renaissance.

Technology upgrades would be made to every school in the district, including wireless projectors and interactive display panels. Montclair High School would get a television studio renovation and Bullock School a greenhouse renovation.

Special education upgrades are planned at four schools: Glenfield, Hillside, Nishuane and Watchung. The largest project, at $1.2 million, is a special education suite at Glenfield.

Proposed improvements to sports facilities at the Aubrey Lewis Sports Complex include new turf for the football and baseball fields and a new grandstand. Schools in Bradford, Hillside, Nishuane and Northeast would all have new play areas.

Information about the proposal, including a Q&A document, is posted on the district website.

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