Hillsdale voted on Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The Hillsdale Board of Education is determining the next steps following voter rejection of the March 14th referendum. This involves listening to the community and considering the next best possible step.  

The option to renovate George G. White Middle School – which was explored in the early development phases of the March 14th referendum – is not an automatic next step. The Board is committed to hearing feedback and suggestions from the community. We anticipate setting a meeting date(s) for community engagement in the upcoming weeks. 

No matter what direction the Board takes next, a bond referendum is likely in Hillsdale’s future. We have known for years that the large-scale renovation that GW needs cannot be paid for from the annual operating budget. The path to another public vote will likely include: 

There are just five allowable vote dates each year (in January, March, September, November and December). To gather meaningful community feedback and develop a new plan based on that, a realistic timeline projects the next referendum could take place no earlier than September 2024.

We look forward to gathering feedback over the next few months. Thank you for your continued participation in the process.

Bergen County certified election results that showed 1,180 in favor and 2,001 opposed to the bond referendum for Hillsdale Public Schools. 

Our aging middle school has been discussed for a long time.

On March 14, 2023, the Board of Education proposed a solution for our learners and community.

The Hillsdale Board of Education will ask voters on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 for permission to borrow $82.7 million to replace the century-old George G. White Middle School. Because there are more students, GW is out of space. Age has put GW out of date. Together, those factors mean Hillsdale is out of time to continue delaying action.

In this video...

HPS Superintendent, Robert Lombardy, Jr., Board of Education President, Nicole Klas, and Board of Education Chairperson, Buildings and Grounds Committee, Justin Saxon, speak about the daily challenges that comes with a 100-year-old middle school, and why it is the right time to move our Hillsdale students and community forward.

Click the play button to learn more about the special election and why the district specifically chose this path after years of planning and research.

What is a bond referendum?

A bond referendum is a vote in which a school district asks voter approval to borrow funds through the sale of bonds. Only after a bond referendum is approved by voters can a district sell bonds to fund large-scale projects, like construction of a new school, that are not achievable through the annual budget. In contrast, the annual budget funds day-to-day operations, such as salaries, supplies and regular maintenance. 

OUR proposAL

ReplacE The aging

George G. White Middle School has long shown its age. The building lacks the characteristics that form the foundation of a 21st century learning experience, which fosters innovation, a love of learning and space to support psychological and physical wellness. 

Our middle school faces extensive challenges. It lacks the physical space needed for our students and programming. Our mechanical systems - HVAC, electric, plumbing - are ailing and are the victim of many years of piecemeal fixes driven by emergency circumstances. 

The building's needs include: classrooms space of appropriate size for today's learners; new boilers, windows, doors and roofing; efficient and safe parent drop-off zones; staff and visitor parking; a gymnasium  that meets the demands of our physical education learners and robust recreation/community athletics; and cafeteria space and service areas that can accommodate the student population of today and tomorrow. 

... WITH a New middle school across the street

**Sample Rendering**


what's the timeline?

The problem has been known for years, and in December 2019 a Strategic Planning Committee determined it was time for action. After a pandemic pause, the Board of Education sought state approval for a bond referendum. If voters approve that proposal on Tuesday, March 14, official construction plans would be submitted to the state Department of Education for review.

Timing: It would take 10-12 months for review of the construction plans followed by the public bidding process. Construction of a new building would take 18-24 months.  Students could be in the new building for the Fall of 2026. Once students are permitted to occupy the new building, the current George G. White School would be converted to an athletic complex with a synthetic turf field marked for multiple sports. It would be available for student use during school hours and community use in the evening and on weekends.

Costs: All things considered -- including furnishings of the new school, demolition of the old one, creation of athletic facilities and a cushion for "unknowns" including inflation -- are estimated at $82.7 million. State aid would pay up to $5.4 million of that amount. The rest would be paid back through property taxes over 30 years. The "real feel" tax impact is estimated at $95 per month for a home assessed at Hillsdale's average.

What's meant by "real feel?" The district is nearly done paying for the improvements made through a referendum that voters approved 20 years ago. That will result in an $8.59/month drop in the tax rate for the 2023/24 school year. Simultaneously, voter approval on March 14 would result in a new rate of $103.59. The balance of those is what taxpayers would really feel, and that's a net increase of about $95 per month for a home assessed at Hillsdale's average ($474,172). See the FAQs page to learn how assessed value is different from market value.

Why not expand and renovate GW? During the Board's process, the cost of building a new school was compared to a ball-parked cost of $72 per month to expand and renovate. That included about $3.7 million (in 2021 pricing) to rent modular trailers for a minimum of two years. It would have disrupted the middle school experience for students. After that, Hillsdale would be left with the many unknown factors that come from renovating a 100-year-old school, and some architectural constraints could not be overcome. A survey of people who learned about the options showed very strong support for the proposal to invest in a new middle school.

All residents benefit from well-maintained, quality schools, like the ones shown in these photos. A survey by put hard facts behind the general assumption that schools matter to homebuyers -- 91% said district boundaries were important in their hunts. It also found that homebuyers were willing to give up a bedroom or garage to live in the right district; others said they were willing to exceed their budgets to do so.

Hillsdale faces a turning point on March 14, 2023, when voters consider a proposal to invest in a modern, right-sized school and athletic field space.