Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Montgomery Township School District serves approximately 4,800 pre-kindergarten through high school students in five buildings. It is the mission of every member of the Board and staff to develop each student as a lifelong learner, with a strong emphasis on educating the full child through strong academic programs, co-curricular offerings, stellar athletics, and community engagement. At Montgomery Township Schools, we are committed to going above and beyond the standards by providing our teachers with the resources, training, and flexibility to meet the diverse needs of their students.
In partnership with the community, the Board of Education supports and expands these excellent programs while continually preparing our students for the 21st century with new opportunities that focus on higher level thinking. Our high expectations are coupled with a wide array of technology based resources, dedicated teachers, professional administrators, as well as Montgomery’s underlying commitment to providing a well-rounded education for all students.
When is the referendum vote and why?
On Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Montgomery Township and Rocky Hill residents will be asked to vote on a very important bond referendum proposal for approximately $18.5M that will update and improve our School District facilities.
Like many homeowners, the District needs to periodically invest in its “school home” to ensure that our buildings and grounds are safe, clean, code compliant and conducive to teaching and learning.
Investing in Our Children, Schools & Community
Referendum Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is a Bond Referendum?
- What Prompted the District to Consider a Referendum now?
- What Projects will this Bond Referendum Include?
- What Projects Have Been Done Using the Capital Reserve Budget?
- I am a resident of Montgomery Township or Rocky Hill but I have no children in the schools; why should I vote “yes” on this Referendum?
- If the referendum is approved, what happens next?
- When does the Board of Education expect Construction to Begin?
- How long will this bond be in effect?
- Is the district eligible for State funding?
- What happens to my property taxes if the referendum is approved?
- I am not Registered to Vote, Can I Still Support the Montgomery Township School District’s Commitment to Maintaining Excellence?
- Who can I Contact with Questions Regarding the Referendum?
- How can I find my Polling Place?
- Why are these facility improvements needed?
- How will these facility improvements impact learning?
- Does the referendum plan address general maintenance and infrastructure improvements?
- How old are district facilities?
- Will the proposals in this referendum benefit community programs?
What is a Bond Referendum?
A bond referendum seeks voter approval for the financing of projects that are unable to be included in the Board’s regular operating budget. Since the introduction of the 2% budget cap on local School Boards in 2010, Montgomery Township Schools is no longer able to include capital improvements such as roof replacements, restroom renovations and sidewalk replacement in the annual budget. The bond referendum that is being proposed in Montgomery enables our teachers, administrators, and Board members to maintain the excellent quality of our schools for all students.
What Prompted the District to Consider a Referendum now?
The Montgomery Township Board of Education, in conjunction with the Director of Facilities, have been actively monitoring the status of our schools through our review of the Long Range Facility Plan. We are asking the public to support this referendum because the board has unanimously concluded that there are an increasing number of facility concerns that need to be expediently addressed. The Montgomery Township Board of Education is unable to include these necessary projects in our annual budget without significantly decreasing the well-being of our students. In addition, the Department of Education has determined that our projects qualify for approximately 40% funding of the total project cost.
What Projects will this Bond Referendum Include?
Orchard Hill Elementary School
- Window Replacement
- Boiler Replacement
- Partial Roof Replacement
- Gym Floors (2) & Divider Replacement
- Rear Asphalt Replacement
- Restroom Renovations
- Media Center Carpet Replacement
Village Elementary School
- Music Room Alteration
- Roof Replacement
- Restroom Renovations
- Installation of Second Exit from Rear Parking Area
Lower Middle School
- Installation of Playground
- Roof Replacement
- Replacement of Boiler and Chiller
- Replacement of Media Center Carpet
Upper Middle School
- Redesign of Parent drop off/pick up area
- Conversion of Home Economics Room to Art Studio
- Media Center Renovations
- Resurface Tennis Courts (joint project with Township)
- Replacement of Track
- Gym Floor Resurfacing
- Bleacher Replacement/Divider Replacement
- Roof Replacement
- Restroom Renovations
- Paving of Transportation Parking Lot
- Replacement of Fuel Tanks
- Replacement of Track
- Installation of Asphalt at Cougar Stadium Entrance
- Sidewalk Replacement
- Installation of Walkway to 601 at Main Entrance
- Restroom Epoxy Floors Replacement
What Projects Have Been Done Using the Capital Reserve Budget?
In the past, the Montgomery Township Board of Education has used the capital reserve budget to finance a number of projects. Most recently the Board has used these funds to replace the athletic field at Cougar Stadium. This project benefits every member of the MTSD community as it promotes health, wellness and safety and a shows a commitment to providing adequate instructional spaces for all children district wide.
I am a resident of Montgomery Township or Rocky Hill but I have no children in the schools; why should I vote “yes” on this Referendum?
School bonds provide a higher return on investment than the cost to pay off the bonds that will benefit the entire community, not only for students. Research shows that adults and seniors will benefit through a stronger local economy, a better-skilled workforce, and higher property values. In the short term, school upgrades generate high-quality jobs and the ripple effects help local businesses and grow our local tax base. When completed, school improvements lead directly to better student performance—and as a result, to more valuable communities. Higher academic performance in neighborhood schools makes communities more attractive to businesses and new residents; research indicates that home values increase by $1.50 for every $1.00 of capital spending on schools.
If the referendum is approved, what happens next?
If voters approve the bond referendum on March 8th, after a thirty day waiting period, the district will authorize sale of the bonds.
Upon sale of the bonds, District architects and engineers would create detailed designs for the approved projects. This design phase would likely last through Summer/Fall of 2016, depending on the project.
Bid development and awarding of contracts would begin in Spring/Summer of 2016, with construction projects beginning in in the 16-17 school year. It is estimated that the construction phase would last into the 2018-19 school year.
When does the Board of Education expect Construction to Begin?
Upon approval of the referendum by the voters, some projects could begin as early as summer of 2016.
Tax Impact/Financial Information
How long will this bond be in effect?
The referendum is seeking authority for a 15-year bond totaling $18.5M. This is similar to a mortgage on a home loan. Currently, interest rates are low and thus it is a favorable time to purchase bonds. Furthermore, the district continuously monitors the bond market and, as it did in 2011 with the 2000 voter-approved bond referendum, would consider refinancing the bonds if it in future years it proves beneficial for taxpayers.
Is the district eligible for State funding?
Yes. The New Jersey Department of Education has determined that close to 40% of our project cost (approximately $7.15M) are eligible for State funding in the form of Debt Service Aid. Debt Service Aid is a partial payment of a bond made by the state based on eligible costs. The State of NJ determines eligible costs by reviewing the proposed projects submitted by the district. This payment is made annually over the life of the bond issue to cover a portion of the cost of principal and interest due each year.
What happens to my property taxes if the referendum is approved?
Assuming a 3% interest rate on 15 year bonds and based on the 2015 Somerset County Abstract of Ratables (unchanged for the life of the bonds), an average Montgomery Township taxpayer with a home assessed value of $499,206 will see an average annual property tax increase of $126. An average Rocky Hill taxpayer with a home assessed value of $439,562 will see an average annual property tax increase of $74. These increases will fluctuate slightly annually based on actual ratables and State determined percent share of the two municipalities.
I am not Registered to Vote, Can I Still Support the Montgomery Township School District’s Commitment to Maintaining Excellence?
Yes! We encourage all members of the Montgomery and Rocky Hill Communities to support the needs of our students. If you are not currently registered to vote, voter registration forms are available at all schools, the Montgomery Township Municipal Building, and online at http://www.co.somerset.nj.us/elections/forms/njvoterapp.pdf. All forms must be completed and submitted to the county or municipal clerk 30 days before the election.
To become a registered voter you must meet the following criteria:
- You are at least 18 years of age
- You have lived at your Montgomery or Rocky Hill address at least 30 days prior to the election
- You are a United States citizen
- You must not be serving a sentence, on parole, or on probation as a result of a conviction of an indictable offense under state or federal law.
- You must not be adjudged mentally incompetent.
You may drop off your voter registration form at the Somerset County Commissioner of Education, 20 Grove Street, PO Box 3000, Somerville, NJ 08876.
Who can I Contact with Questions Regarding the Referendum?
Please review the Referendum page on the district website. You may also contact the Montgomery Township School District at (609) 466-7600.
How can I find my Polling Place?
The most up to date information regarding your polling place and district can be found on our Voter Information page. If you are still unsure about where to find your polling place, please call the municipal clerk at (908) 359-8211.
Why are these facility improvements needed?
Montgomery Public Schools facilities are aging. The average age of district schools based on date of original construction is 36.8 years, with the oldest school being built in 1955. While the district has worked hard to maintain facilities and some improvements have been made over the years, the schools were designed for a different time, with different systems, materials and different approaches to teaching and learning.
The infrastructure improvements proposed will help support improvements to outdoor learning and activity spaces, such as the installation of a middle school playground and instructional spaces needed for both our curricular program, as well as our co-curricular programming (athletics, after-school activities K-12). Current facilities are in need of updates to ensure accessibility and to improve the safety of playing surfaces.
Updated learning spaces will allow teachers the flexibility to group students and learning experiences according to the individual needs of learners and in ways that complement or enhance the lesson.
How will these facility improvements impact learning?
Research suggests that having a variety of learning spaces available to personalize learning to diverse needs actually improves overall student engagement and achievement. How a learning environment is designed can promote more cooperative learning and problem-solving, key skills students will need for career and life. In addition, active learning environments have been shown to increase teacher-student interactions, student engagement, improve class attendance rates, and reduce failure rates in both the overall and at-risk student populations.
Does the referendum plan address general maintenance and infrastructure improvements?
The district currently has a Facilities Plan addressing critical maintenance and infrastructure needs of its schools. The referendum proposal looks at facility improvement that will benefit the district well-beyond the scope of the 5-year plan. The proposal includes outdoor learning, activity space improvements, updates to classrooms and facilities to address the needs of today and tomorrow's teachers and learners.
How old are district facilities?
Technically, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, life expectancy of a school building from from its original construction date is 44 years. The original construction date of many of our schools date back further, with our oldest school building constructed in 1955, and our newest in 2005. For more information about the life expectancy of school facilities, click here.
Will the proposals in this referendum benefit community programs?
- Orchard Elementary School: 1955/ 1966/ 1996
- Village Elementary School: 1970 / 1999 / 2000 / 2011
- Lower Middle School: 1997
- Upper Middle School: 1968 / 1995
- High School: 2005
The Montgomery Township School District is the center of our community. The classes, programs and services offered through our district's summer programming, Montgomery Recreation Department, and other community partnerships such as the Special Olympics Unified Sports programming, Community Arts groups, Chinese and Hindi Schools, are integral to the Montgomery Township Schools continuum of learning. Whether such experiences are at the early learning level (e.g. Early Childhood Education, or preschool), school-age level (e.g. before, after and non-school day youth enrichment classes and childcare options), or adult learning level (teacher professional development, community programming), Montgomery’s school facilities offer lifelong learning opportunities for our community members and help identify and link community needs and resources in a manner that helps the quality of life in Montgomery and Rocky Hill.The bond referendum proposal includes site improvements, facility enhancements and updated learning spaces at all five sites in Montgomery Township Schools. These improvements will enhance learning opportunities both during the traditional school day as well as after school, during the evenings and on the weekends.