NORTH CALDWELL PUBLIC SCHOOLS
North Caldwell schools are the hub and pride of the community
The reputation of North Caldwell Public Schools is a primary reason new homeowners choose North Caldwell.
After years of modest enrollment gains, North Caldwell has more recently faced significant increases in enrollment. The number of students currently exceeds the capacity in both Gould and Grandview Schools. As education evolved, the district modified its teaching practices within the confines of existing facilities. Our buildings, their systems and their roofs have all gotten older.
After years of research, the Board of Education plans a special vote of the public on what’s needed now for our schools and what's needed to position the district for the future.
A well-timed investment in our schools would:
Keep the small, personalized class sizes that our community treasures to facilitate attentive learning.
Maintain the academic edge that will be even more necessary for the future.
Improve safety and security without restricting community use.
Replace/upgrade building systems and roofing to reduce financial risk and increase cost efficiency.
For several years, the Board of Education has researched what’s needed now and how the district could be positioned for the future. That process led toward a special vote of the public called a bond referendum that could enable a $51 million plan to address these needs.
A Bond Referendum on Tuesday, September 26, 2023
With this kind of vote (referendum), the school district seeks permission to borrow money (through the sale of bonds) to finance large-scale projects. Funding projects through a bond referendum offers the advantage of more than $10 million in state aid that North Caldwell could not get through its regular property tax.
Bond funding is an efficient use of borrowing capacity. This up-front funding can be used to meet our district’s growing need for space, upgrade safety and security, complete infrastructure maintenance, and protect against financial inefficiencies. It is a cornerstone of the Board of Education’s long-term strategic planning for new space ready to meet North Caldwell's needs by fall of 2026.
What are the current and future needs?
Space is a high priority for general education classrooms and more specific instructional areas.
Our school buildings were designed for about 585 students, yet each day we welcome more than 700 children through our doors. New housing developments in the borough indicate that our enrollment will continue to climb.
Education has evolved in ways that require more specialty instruction. That means rooms for small-group instruction, World Language learning, STEAM exploration and other collaboration that crosses subjects. It also means more space for learning supports, such as speech/language services and occupational/physical therapy.
Next-level security and safety requires building alterations.
Two-step security vestibules would be added to both schools; at Gould this would be formed by closing the gap between that school’s two buildings.
Separate entrances for new Gym/Multi-Purpose Rooms at both schools would continue the schools’ tradition as a community hub without providing all-building access.
Other health and physical safety considerations include improving HVAC systems for better air circulation, reconfiguring parking lots to improve traffic flow, and upgrading Gould's electrical and fire alarm systems.
Financial stability and financial efficiency are essential to this focus on the future.
Aging boilers, HVAC systems, and roofing reduce the energy efficiency of our buildings, they require repairs, and they introduce risk for emergency replacements. Capitalizing on state aid for this must-do maintenance would reduce the local share of costs, but that’s only available through a voter-approved bond referendum.
The Board of Education has set aside funds as “Capital Reserve” in anticipation of these needs; that would contribute $5 million toward this investment.
This Funding Package Relies on Voter Approval
The cost of these improvements is expected to be about $51 million.
Proposed funding would come from three sources:
More than $10 million in state aid would offset local costs. New Jersey collects revenue from across the state to provide this aid, but it is only distributed to districts where voters approved bond borrowing. With this referendum, North Caldwell seeks a slice of that pie. State aid would cover 20% of the cost of these improvements.
A $5 million infusion would come from the district’s Capital Reserve – essentially funds that are set aside in anticipation of capital improvements. This reserved amount can contribute 10% toward the costs of major renovations.
Bonds would be sold to generate upfront funding and paid back with property taxes earmarked just for this purpose.
After the factors of state aid and Capital Reserve, the property tax impact is estimated at $895 per year for a home assessed at the average in North Caldwell. More information is on the Funding page.