Let's Talk About the School Referendum

Let's Talk About the School Referendum
Posted on 09/21/2023
RVS Sign

As most of you know by now, Rockaway Valley School is introducing a referendum for improvements to the school facility this year.  I wanted to share some information with you although we are very much in the initial phase and there are many of the details to be worked out in later phases.

You can keep up with the referendum news on our website (www.btrvs.org).  You can find the referendum page by clicking on the corresponding tab near the top, on the right.  All of my correspondence, presentations, photos and frequently asked questions will be uploaded there as we progress through the various stages.

To date, I have notified the community via a letter that was pushed out to the community (via School Messenger for parents, the website and our Facebook page) about a presentation to the Board of Education at their August meeting to provide give initial general information about the first step, approving an application to the State for the ability to offer a referendum for a community-wide vote which would likely

take place in March.  Greg Somjen, of Parette Somjen Architects, the firm that will be assisting us throughout the process, made the presentation to the Board and others who attended the meeting.  His presentation covered background information, the proposed projects and potential costs.  He explained that much of this information would be contained in an application to the State to secure approval for our proceeding with the referendum and the potential amount of debt service aid the State would have available for the project.  These figures are all contained in the presentation which I hope you will take a look at.

Then, at our two Back-to-School Nights, I spoke about the referendum and the need for the scope of work we hope to undertake.  Parette Somjen provided us with some photo boards which show the "before" and anticipated "after" pictures of the major projects.  In addition, a Frequently Asked Questions handout was available.  You'll find each of these linked in this article and on the referendum webpage.

Where are we now?  The Board approved the application at that August meeting which now has been sent to the State.  We don't anticipate hearing back from the DOE before December about our figures for debt service aide.  Once approval has been secured, the next phase will begin:  bringing more detailed information to the community and planning for a vote on March 12, 2024.  Once approved by you, the voters, complete plans will be drawn up for each of the projects which will then be sent out for bid.  There will be multiple contractors involved in the bidding process that will include electrical, roofing, HVAC, general construction and other trades.

As you can see, there is a timeline for these improvements and work is not likely to begin in this school year.  I'm confident in our plans though.  We are looking forward to completing the roofing project (there were leaks in a classroom just this week when it rained).  With our increasingly hot spring weather and back-to-school heat in the Fall, air conditioning will be a welcome relief.  A lot of you have seen our art room and know it's never had so much as a refresh.  The world of art now includes so many more options like graphic design and ways to include STEAM.  Visual and Performing Arts are vital to our students' becoming creative, solution-oriented and confident.  It's time to bring our art program into the 21st century.  Our nurse's space is old, inefficient and in need of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades.  Increased safety and security measures and an official entrance and lobby will help visitors find the office more easily.  These are just some of the measures we hope to complete.

Please keep our website bookmarked in your phone or computer.  Follow us on Facebook.  Read the Township Times as we'll send the same content to the newsletter editor.  Come to the information sessions (more to be learned at the info meetings than at BOE meetings as the Board's actions are limited at this stage).  We hope the entire community will learn about our needs and help us make the necessary improvements for the benefit of all of our students for many years to come.

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