Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Recent Damage Spurs a Vote

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Recent Damage Spurs a Vote

Article excerpt

EAST RUTHERFORD – Citing a dire need to improve and expand district facilities, East Rutherford intends to hold another referendum in March, three months after a similar measure was rejected by voters.

The extremely cold temperatures during the past month have left the district's two elementary schools – A.S. Faust School and Mckenzie School – reeling from multiple burst and leaking pipes, and subsequent water damage.

East Rutherford plans to hold another vote on March 13 on a modified version of the original referendum.

On the upcoming ballot will be the same facility improvements outlined in the December referendum, with the exception of removing a proposed $608,131 bridge between the proposed addition and Faust School.

"The main reason [holding another referendum] is the safety and security of our students," said Schools Superintendent Giovanni Giancaspro at the special Jan. 16 meeting.

"We want them to know we are in a crisis mode right now. We are not looking to beautify the district. These are things that we need."

On Jan. 16, the Board of Education authorized its architects to submit the modified plans and an application to the state Department of Education.

Citizens who spoke against the December referendum had been critical of the referendum amount and in particular, the bridge element in the architectural plans.

"When a bond referendum goes down, there is a reason for it," said Giancaspro, who noted the board opted to remove of the bridge from the plans after listening to taxpayers.

The first $31.6 million referendum called for improvements in Faust School, McKenzie School and the Faust Annex, and an addition to Faust School.

It was rejected on Dec. 12 by a vote by a vote of 435 against and 340 in favor, according to initial tallies provided by the East Rutherford Clerk's Office.

Voter turnout was pegged at just under 15 percent.

In the weeks leading up to the December vote, officials contended these upgrades were necessary to fix the East Rutherford School District's aging buildings and accommodate an influx of students.

In the past five years, the district's enrollment has increased 28 percent, and it is projected to increase Faust's population from its present enrollment of 410 to 563 students by 2020.

Under state statutes, a board of education must give the municipal clerk and county board of education at least a 60-day advanced notice of its intention to hold a special election. Special school elections can be held in January, March, September or December.

A question directed at the Department of Education as to whether or not a school district can hold referendum votes so close together was referred to the new Governor's Office. The Governor's Office directed all questions by submitted via email. There was no response as of press time.

Between Dec. 18, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018, the East Rutherford district has contended with 12 separate pipe breaks or leaks at Faust School and nine at McKenzie School. …

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