Clarification of Misleading and Incorrect Information
January 14, 2019 Press Release
Hackensack Public Schools Will Host Information Sessions about the Jan. 22 Bond Referendum to Address Needs
Hackensack, NJ – In its continued effort to help residents understand the January 22 bond referendum, leaders from Hackensack Public Schools will continue to share information with the public during a Referendum Fair Tuesday, January 15 at Hackensack High School and at its seventh Town Hall Meeting Wednesday, January16, at Jackson Avenue School. These sessions are part of an ongoing communications plan.
The January 15 meeting will be a "Referendum Fair" that will begin with a brief introduction before guests explore individual stations focused on academics/curriculum, the 9th Grade Academy, architectural plans, and finances. It will start at 7 p.m. at Hackensack High School Media Center, 135 Beech St.
The January 16 meeting will be a Town Hall-style presentation followed by the opportunity for Questions and Answers. It will start at 8 p.m. at Jackson Avenue School Cafeteria, 421 Jackson Ave.
Estimated costs are $169.9 million, and the district would not be permitted to spend more than that on the proposed projects. State aid has been approved at $41.4 million and would be applied toward debt service payments on the bonds. The average assessed home value in Hackensack is $245,431 which translates into an average tax impact of $308.66 per year, over 30 years, based on the average assessed home as verified by the Board’s auditor.
The website www.HPSReferendum.com has details about the bond referendum, including Frequently Asked Questions and a full list of referendum projects. Vote by Mail applications, which are available from that website, must be received in the County Clerk’s Office by January 15 to be mailed back to the voter in time to be marked, returned, and counted.
Response to open letter by mayor J. Labrosse
December 31, 2018
The Hackensack Public Schools Board of Education and Administration thank Mayor John Labrosse for expressing his concerns about the upcoming school bond referendum on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.
The proposed Building A Brighter Future referendum is based on the district’s long-term facilities planning, which began over five years ago, to accommodate our growing student population. Enrollment has increased by nearly 1,000 students over the past 10 years. The district currently meets the needs of nearly 5,800 students in PreK – 12th grade in six schools as well as an Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC), a facility we have leased from the Newark Archdiocese for the past five years. An approved referendum will save approximately $700,000 in annual lease payments and enable the district to bring preschoolers back to their neighborhood schools, strengthening and enriching our community.
Plans for the proposed referendum were presented at monthly BOE meetings, beginning last school year, when we requested and welcomed input from staff, parents, community members and our sending districts, Rochelle Park, South Hackensack and Maywood. Hackensack Public Schools has a long history of positive collaboration and cooperation with our sending districts; one we look forward to continuing long into the future. We currently are working to address Maywood’s concerns about tuition, however those concerns do not affect the district’s agreements with South Hackensack and Rochelle Park.
Recognizing the impact on and the important role of our schools in the community, the BOE and administration also have met regularly with Hackensack City officials. Beginning in June 2018, we shared monthly updates about the facilities plans, including a detailed presentation to the Hackensack City Council on August 21, 2018, followed by a presentation to the Planning Board in October 2018. The District also has been working
with an Advisory Team comprised of educators, parents and community members of all ages, including those without students in our schools. This team is helping us with community outreach to communicate with and share factual information about the proposed referendum with as many residents/taxpayers as possible.
The BOE received approval from the NJ Department of Education on Wednesday, November 14, and we acted immediately to schedule the January 22, 2019 referendum to address the critical facilities needs and take advantage of state aid and accelerate community outreach. The BOE held six Town Hall-style information sessions in early December, some of which were even attended by members of the City Council. We have scheduled similar meetings with community organizations in the first half of January, with another Town Hall meeting scheduled for 7 PM on January 8, 2019, at the Logan Family Life Center at Mount Olive Baptist Church.
During these meetings, we present detailed information about why we are proposing a comprehensive plan to address the district’s extensive facilities improvement and construction needs, rather than a phased-in, piecemeal approach. In fact, the negative results of a such an approach have been a concern expressed by attendees during public meetings. The Board of Education, with the input of educators, parents and community members, came to this decision to propose one question to Hackensack voters, to address all the district’s needs in a fiscally responsible and efficient manner.
We share Mayor Labrosse’s interest in ensuring that our community is informed about the referendum and have been diligent and proactive in our efforts to reach out to the community-at-large. We will continue our outreach and will work with the City Council to do what is best for our community.
The total cost of the referendum’s proposed projects is $169.9 million. With state aid, the tax impact based on the average assessed home value of $245,431 would be an average of $308.66 per year or less than $1.00 per day. State aid would cover 24% of those costs,
but only if voters approve the referendum. This state funding would greatly reduce the impact on Hackensack taxpayers.
A referendum to finance facilities improvements and construction is one of the most critical decisions for any community, one that has an impact on the growth and vitality of not just the school district, but the entire community for generations to come. The appropriate time to request a postponement has passed. Postponing the referendum now, after Hackensack residents have already received their ballots and, in some cases, already cast their votes, would be problematic. For more information about the Building A Brighter Future referendum please visit: www.hpsreferendum.com.
Rosemary Marks, Acting Superintendent of Schools
November 21, 2018 Press Release
Building a Brighter Future: Hackensack Board of Education Moves Forward with Plans for a New School and Major District-Wide Facilities Upgrades
HACKENSACK, NJ – On Tuesday evening, the Hackensack Board of Education presented to the public a resolution, which includes the proposal that will be submitted to the voters at a special school district election on January 22, 2019. The resolution bringing forth a referendum for district-wide facilities renovations, alterations, and a new school was approved unanimously by the Board with a vote of 7–0.
The Board is seeking voter approval, via a ballot question, for comprehensive upgrades and improvements to school facilities throughout the District, including construction of a new school building that will service students in grades 7, 8, and 9. This project will include a parking garage servicing the current high school, and the proposed new school, along with renovations, alterations, security vestibules and air conditioning for all schools.
If approved, this referendum would allow the District to accomplish the following goals:
Address overcrowding at all District schools
The district’s enrollment continues to grow. Currently we service 5,822 students, a figure that represents an increase of approximately 1,000 students since the 2007-2008 school year. Most district schools are at or nearing capacity and the construction of the new building will alleviate overcrowding at all district schools, providing for a long term solution to our growing enrollment.
Improve School Security
Security is critical to keeping students and faculty safe, and is a priority for this proposed referendum. Vestibules provide additional protection by adding a secured space where visitors enter and sign in before gaining access to the building.
Renovate/Improve Existing Schools
Many of our district schools were built nearly a century ago when educational needs were vastly different. The proposed referendum will allow for much needed building upgrades, including HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) in classrooms, increased parking, drop off areas, more efficient boilers, new windows, as well as improvements to bathrooms, electrical systems, classrooms, and playgrounds.
Expand Preschool Education Opportunities:
Studies have shown the students who attend preschool perform better throughout their school careers. As such, the district has made it a priority to expand preschool education. Currently the district rents space from the Archdiocese of Newark due to overcrowding in the elementary schools. This referendum will move preschool classes back to neighborhood schools, allow us to expand the number of four-year-old classes, and eliminate the need for a yearly rental/maintenance cost for a non-district owned property.
Provide for a 9th Grade Academy
The new building will provide for a 9th grade Academy, whose focus will be to better transition students to a high school experience that prepares them for the increasing competition of attending competitive four-year colleges and the demanding job market.
This effort is part of a long-range facilities plan that includes other upgrades that will be addressed through capital reserve funds. But despite yearly budgeting for ongoing maintenance, like with many other districts across the State, the needs of school facilities in Hackensack are far too great to address without additional funding. In order to make the major facilities updates that are needed district-wide, the District will need the support of all Hackensack residents on January 22, 2019.
The total estimated cost for construction of district-wide upgrades including new construction, renovations, alterations, and heating/cooling upgrades is $169,904,226. The approved State aid for the new construction came in at the maximum level of 14%, while the maximum of 40% was also received for alterations and HVAC upgrades. However, aid for renovations came in slightly under 40% due to inclusion of the high school field house in this category, which is not eligible for funding, according to State guidelines. Overall, State aid will off-set the cost of the total project by 24.36%, or $41,388,670.
The breakdown of the State aid the District will receive is as follows:
Based on the average assessed home value of $245,431, the proposed bond referendum translates into an average tax impact of $308.66 per year.
June 26, 2018 Press Release
Hackensack Public School District Proposes Plans for New Junior High and
Major District-Wide Facilities Upgrades
On Tuesday evening, the Hackensack Board of Education presented to the public a comprehensive proposal to overhaul district facilities and upgrade educational programs. This proposal is the result of extensive outreach to teachers, parents and administrators, to provide for long-term solutions that would adequately address the programmatic and facilities’ needs of the District, which include but are not limited to growing student enrollment, a need for programmatic upgrades to STEAM and Special Education programs, upgrades to aging facilities and infrastructure, and the need for Universal Preschool Education across the District.
The project would include building a new Junior High School complete with a 9th Grade Academy, and making long overdue upgrades to existing District schools. The proposed building would be constructed on the existing Hackensack High School campus, creating a new and expanded Junior/Senior High School campus. The addition of this building would give the District the ability to reconfigure existing schools. The elementary schools, which currently serve students in grades K-4, would become PreK-2 community schools. The existing 5–8 Middle School would be converted to an Upper Elementary building serving grades 3-6. The new building would be a Junior High School for grades 7-9, including the 9th Grade Academy, and the Senior High School would serve grades 10-12.
The new building would provide all students, including students from the sending districts, with new state-of-the-art, Future-Ready learning facilities and a transitional program to better prepare them for their high school experience.
Upgrades to the existing buildings include retrofitting facilities to comply with state standards for preschool classrooms, adding security vestibules, handicap accessibility, drop off areas in all elementary schools as well as heating/cooling upgrades, including central air conditioning.
This effort is part of a long-range facilities plan that includes other upgrades that will be addressed through capital reserve funds. But despite yearly budgeting for ongoing maintenance, like with many other districts across the State, the needs of school facilities in Hackensack are far too great to address without additional funding. In order to make the major facilities updates that are needed district-wide, the District will need the support of all Hackensack residents. This begins with submission of the facilities plan in July to the New Jersey Department of Education, followed by a public vote.
“The proposed plan offered by the Board of Education on Tuesday night represents a long-term solution that brings our District into the 21st century and allows us to expand and add programs, such as Universal Full-Day Preschool,” Acting Superintendent Rosemary Marks explained.
The Board of Education is working hard to provide members of the public with as much up-to-date information on the status of this plan as possible. Information on the Facilities Proposal, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available on the district website. Additionally, the Board of Education is currently seeking interested members of the public to join its Advisory Team. “Together we can ensure that Hackensack Public Schools reflects the change and forward movement of our community, for the next generation of Comets,” Board President Lara Rodriguez emphasized.
The total estimated cost of $164,122,326 for construction of district-wide upgrades, including new construction, renovations, alterations, and heating/cooling upgrades is itemized as follows:
- Fairmount School – $10,417,463
- Fanny Meyer Hillers School – $9,376,547
- Jackson Avenue School – $3,110,447
- Nellie K. Parker School – $7,171,059
- Hackensack Middle School – $16,468,410
- Hackensack High School – $17,346,650
- New Parking Garage – $6,285,000
- New 7-8-9/Junior High School – $91,446,750
- Hackensack High School Athletic Fields Upgrades – $2,500,000
*Note: Jackson Avenue School currently has the most up-to-date heating and cooling system, and therefore HVAC upgrades are not as extensive/costly as other schools.