Kenilworth has been making strides ...

Now our district is taking the leap with a proposal for strategic improvements.

What is a bond referendum?

  • A bond referendum asks voters to approve the sale of bonds to upgrade Kenilworth’s schools in ways that impact the day-to-day experiences of our students.

  • Selling bonds would generate up-front funding for long-term benefits.

  • Benefits would be seen in just a few years, while costs would spread over a longer time (like a home improvement loan).

  • State aid that comes only with a voter-approved bond would reduce the cost on local tax bills.

What would it mean for our district?

Our Board of Education proposes to use bonds to support the vision of advancing student instruction and achievement. Already Kenilworth’s initiatives have included more curriculum innovations, a stronger focus on early literacy skills, and enhanced resources for college-bound students.

A voter-approved bond would fund facility improvements

that align with the district’s ambitious educational model.

Create a distinct middle school within the existing building at Brearley, from a separate entrance to a dedicated cafeteria/gym. A second-floor expansion would give students additional classrooms, including their own art and music rooms. More than just space, this significant change would:

  • Align with New Jersey’s academic structure for continuity of learning across grades 6-8

  • Enhance teachers’ collaboration across middle grades

  • Strengthen the age-specific support for academic growth, transitions, and sense of belonging, and provide it for students across three full grades

Provide state-of-the-art STEM spaces for middle and high school students. Strong programming in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is an important measure of a high-quality school district. Restructuring the space at Brearley would increase access to STEM instruction:

  • Middle school students would inherit two high school-level labs

  • An addition on the first floor would give high school students a high-tech science wing

Improve air quality at both schools with more modern and efficient HVAC systems. Every classroom would get new, individual units to handle heating, cooling and ventilation. Air conditioning would be added to Brearley’s auxiliary gym, which would become the new middle school gym/cafeteria. HVAC systems for other areas would be replaced. With voter approval, these projects plus a separate program funded by energy efficiencies would essentially leave Kenilworth with nearly new HVAC systems including chillers, boilers, unit ventilators and controls.

Upgrade Brearley’s track and fields for student and community use. The track is worn and needs replacement to better serve the students and community members who use it regularly. We also must address the condition of the frequently flooded grass field we use for football and soccer. The alternative of synthetic turf would stand up better against wet weather and would give students the same benefit as nearly every other high school in Union County. Grass fields for baseball and soccer would also be improved to even out slopes and dips.

Expand pre-K and special needs services with the space freed up at Harding. We know early engagement prepares students for better academic success, and we want to give pre-K opportunities to every child in our community. But with more demand than slots, the district always has a pre-K waiting list. We also need more space to help ensure more students with special needs can stay with peers in their home district, rather than being bused elsewhere for a wider range of services.

Renovate auditoriums at both schools. Harding’s is nearly 100 years old and has never had a complete renovation. Both need new ceilings, floors and seats; Brearley’s also needs a new stage floor and sound booth. These long-lasting improvements would usher in the next century of student experiences.

What's the process? And how can residents learn more?

The Board is considering a bond referendum as part of a financial strategy to give Kenilworth students a full range of educational and enrichment experiences to prepare them for the future. Next steps include Board decisions on the specific project list and a date for the referendum. The tentative timeline focuses on a bond referendum in fall 2022.

Community members have a stake in the projects, and those who are registered to vote will determine whether the district can sell bonds to make the proposed improvements. From now through the referendum, the district will inform residents through various channels, including this website, social media and Q&A events.

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