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Board of Education to hold referendum for construction of new middle school

An election is being held on March 13, 2018 to vote on the creation of a new middle school due to rapidly increasing student enrollment rates.

The vote will determine whether the school should be built in the first place. It is possible, however, that voters will not approve of building the new school. However, according to the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act, “[i]f a district fails to obtain voter approval for a particular project after two attempts, it may ask the commissioner to authorize funding for that project.”

Even if the vote does go through, another vote must be held to pass the budget plan.

Freshman Vinisha Patel says, “The overcrowded middle school with its large class sizes and high student-to-teacher ratio makes it very difficult for students that are struggling to receive the attention they need. When students cannot pass through rows of desks in a classroom, you know that the need for a new middle school has never been greater.”

Assuming that the referendum goes through, a 152,315 square foot school that can hold 1,000 students will be built on Applegarth and Cranbury Station Road. This will necessitate the redistricting and moving of about 1,000 students to the new school.

Schools in Monroe Township have already exceeded their capacity, and more students are expected to enroll in the following years. Based on this, as well as the current curriculum and school facilities, the Board of Education and Student Growth Advisory Committee has decided that the best solution is to build a new middle school first.

The Monroe School District is currently ranked as one of the best in the county. Administrators felt that the overcrowded situation in the current middle school would soon affect this ranking negatively. In particular, members of the BoE are concerned that class sizes will negatively impact education quality and district rankings.

In the last eight years, the school population has increased by more than 1,700 students. It is predicted that another 1,500 students will enroll in Monroe schools in the next five years.

In order to compensate for the surplus of students, Monroe Township Middle School has currently placed orders for trailers. However, this may not be enough to accommodate the students currently in and entering the district.

Freshman Shilpa Gidugu says, “I believe a new middle school is a wonderful idea because the current middle school has been forced to order trailers to handle the huge population. These trailers can affect education greatly because of the inconvenience. Therefore, building another middle school would be beneficial for the overcrowded students because they would receive an education with equal comfort as they would have in the old middle school had there not been overcrowding.”

The middle school is currently facing the most serious capacity problems compared to the other schools in the district. This has been a problem since 2010, but the issue has become more pressing in recent years.

Freshman Pavithra Veera says, “It is important that a classroom isn’t overcrowded so a teacher can teach the students properly. MTMS is getting crowded, and soon it will be almost impossible for children to enroll in the school and learn.”

Since it is easier to deal with enrollment growth at the high school and elementary schools, it would be best to build a new middle school. It is true that a new elementary school and high school wing are needed, but the cost of attempting to solve these problems for every grade level would be too high for both the district and taxpayers. Additionally, there are more ways available at the high school and elementary schools to hold students than in the middle school.

It will also be easier for taxpayers to support a new middle school, compared to the other options. The tax amount for an average home, assessed at $312,219, would be $10.76 per month.

Freshman Navya Sharma says, “Ultimately, taxpayers will benefit from the building of a new middle school. This is due to the fact that the student-to-teacher ratio will decrease with the building of a new school, causing the school’s rates to increase and in turn increase property values.”

The community will vote on the total construction cost, which cannot be exceeded. If this does occur, the project will have to be redesigned and rebid in later months.

The slight increase in the tax rate is caused by the fact that the cost of materials for construction is at a historic low at the moment due to the current state of New Jersey’s economy. In addition to this, state aid is predicted to alleviate about 40 percent of the total cost by funding about $7.1 million of the $68.8 million cost.

The tax rate is also low because the location of the new school has access to two roads, which will make transportation easier and allow builders to avoid the expensive process of road widening. This site is also advantageous because it is close to the existing schools and the area of town with the most people. Additionally, the construction of the school will not negatively impact the wetlands. Lastly, the area has access to utilities such as electric and sewer connections, and the land is ready to be developed.

What are your feelings toward the construction of the new middle school?

You can find more information about the middle school referendum on the Monroe Township School District website.

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