A bond referendum is a vote (referendum) in which the school district seeks permission to borrow (through the sale of bonds). That kind of financing requires a vote of approval by the public. Schools use this method to manage large-scale improvements because they can capture state aid that isn’t available any other way. Without it, the local property tax would cover the entire cost. Bonds are paid back over time, similar to the way a consumer uses a car loan or mortgage. See the FAQs page for more Bond Referendum Basics.

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Ready to repair, renovate & renew

As we plan for River Vale Public Schools’ first bond referendum in 20 years, we feel fortunate to live in a community that wants to be engaged in the process. We're looking forward to sharing information about how state aid could reduce the local cost of school improvements by nearly one-third.

For many of us, this past year has vividly illustrated the importance of being prepared. But even before the pandemic, River Vale Public Schools began an extensive evaluation of the district’s needs. It began with a Physical Needs Study in June 2019, and ultimately led the Board of Education to propose a bond referendum.

When the Board determines when to put the proposed improvements to a vote, the election date will be announced on this website. The earliest possible date would be in April 2021.

Learn more about these Projects, the Cost Advantages, How to Vote, and other FAQs.

Canopies at all three schools would add lighting.

An addition would improve Holdrum's traffic flow.

Students practiced yoga at Roberge Elementary.

Improvements proposed for River Vale schools


A proposal to complete air conditioning throughout River Vale schools would improve the overall learning environment for students. Aside from enhancing students’ ability to focus on academics, climate control is essential for those who suffer from allergies and asthma. Since the start of the pandemic, the public has become educated on the important functions of air filtration and fresh air exchange.

River Vale’s school board already has made improvements in this area by purchasing specialized needlepoint bipolar ionization systems that work with existing HVAC equipment to help remove contaminants from the air. New air conditioning installation will expand these efforts, as the ionization systems will be added to all new equipment.


Aside from the air conditioning that would support student focus, River Vale also is proposing flexible instructional approaches such as indoor/outdoor classrooms. At the Middle School, outdoor courtyards would have spaces for students to learn about gardening and the environment, and areas for quiet study. Fresh air and the opportunity to be out in nature support cognitive function and general well-being.

The addition of Wellness Centers at the middle and elementary schools would help students manage stress and anxiety, which has only intensified with the pandemic. Students would have a chance to regroup, then return to class more focused. The centers also would provide dedicated space for wellness-related activities such as yoga.

The proposal to add outdoor instructional options recognizes that not all students learn the same way, while the wellness support underscores the reality that effective education is not possible without emotional health. River Vale has already expanded programming in social and emotional learning; the proposed renovations will allow more space to help students.


The district has carefully maintained its buildings over the years. But the roofs at Holdrum and Woodside schools need complete replacement, as does a 2003 addition to Roberge School’s roof – that's a total of nearly 150,000 square feet of roofing. Worn classroom ceilings and floors also are ready for an upgrade. The outdated “railway wing” layout of the Middle School creates jammed hallways that are a recipe for student conflict. By constructing an additional corridor, the district would open up dead-end hallways and finally allow for lockers outside of classrooms, resolving the issue of teachers not being able to secure their rooms. Canopies at each school would assist people as they move about our buildings, with clearly marked main entrances, lighting for nighttime safety, and protection from the elements.

Including these improvements in a bond referendum is strategic because the district can capture state aid that isn’t available any other way. That state aid is only offered for specific kinds of projects, and only when they are paid for with voter-approved bond borrowing. Without it, the local property tax would cover the entire cost.

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Thank you for learning more about our Strong Schools - Strong Community proposal, and for making the time to vote in this bond referendum.