Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Overview & Project
Why is the NBC Regional School District holding a bond referendum in 2018?
The Northern Burlington County Regional Board of Education and Administration considered several factors when deciding to move forward with the bond referendum on March 13, 2018.
- Enrollment has increased in recent years and is projected to continue to increase in coming years, with as many as 149 new high school students joining the district. The increase in enrollment has led to overcrowding and inefficient use of the facilities. Increased class sizes directly impact classroom instruction and student achievement.
- Constructed in the 1960s, Northern Burlington County Regional High School has undergone some renovations and upgrades, and been well maintained over the years. However, similar to an aging home, the facilities are in need of major upgrades, such as a new roof , as well as electrical and HVAC upgrades that go beyond routine maintenance.
- Interest rates are still relatively low and construction costs are stable, making this a good time to hold a bond referendum election.
Additionally, the district recently had debt expire (paid off) and refinanced other debt, savings the school district money.
What projects are included in the proposed referendum?
An approved referendum will fund only essential projects necessary to maintain a safe and secure high school campus, as well as ensure that NBC provides students with educational opportunities and maintains high academic standards.
An approved referendum will fund:
- New construction to connect the East and West Buildings, creating a secure, closed campus. Students will no longer travel outside between classes during the school day.
- Construction and renovations to create 9 additional classrooms, including theater arts and choral classrooms – to enhance educational opportunities and alleviate overcrowding.
- Updated science and applied technology labs to help ensure NBC students are prepared for success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers, including bioengineering, forensics and meteorology.
- Upgrades to three greenhouses to maintain and improve the district’s award-winning Agriscience programs, which offer our students the opportunity to continue their education and pursue careers in farming, a key contributor to the economy in our region.
- Expanding and centrally locating the high school library, including multi-media technologies and resources for students and the community.
- Expanding the cafeteria to better accommodate all of the high school students. An expanded cafeteria also will give the district the option to schedule a single lunch period, which many high schools in South Jersey have found adds instructional and study time for students and staff, and improves overall school climate.
- Upgrades and maintenance of roofs, boilers, electric, and HVAC systems.
- Installing air conditioning throughout the East and West Buildings. Currently 60% of the classrooms are not air-conditioned.
Besides the new gymnasium and new auditorium that were eliminated from the scope of work for the March 2018 referendum, there were many other changes to the total project as presented in the “What’s Different” PowerPoint.
What are the benefits of a facilities expansion and renovations project?
When was the last time voters approved a Northern Burlington Regional Bond Referendum and what did it fund?
The last successful bond referendum was in 2009, eight years ago, when voters approved funding for an academic program- television studio, replacement roofs and solar energy system. Prior to the 2009 referendum, in 2000, 17 years ago, voters approved funding a new regional middle school, athletic fields, and secure school bus parking for the growing district.
Is it possible to include the renovations and upgrades in the annual school budget, rather than going out for a special referendum?
The cost to renovate and repair the aging facilities cannot be made within the annual budget because:
- The costs will exceed the annual 2% budget cap.
- An approved referendum will spread out the cost of the upgrades and repairs over 30 years at a relatively low interest rate.
Equally important, the District will receive state aid only if the facilities renovations and repairs are funded through the referendum. State aid is not available if the projects are completed within the regular yearly operating budget.
This is the most fiscally responsible way to fund the necessary renovations and upgrades.
Does the referendum amount cover the cost of any necessary furniture?
Yes, there is $408,000 budgeted for new furniture that is eligible for 100% state aid! Through a referendum, the furniture does not cost the taxpayers one cent.
If approved, when will the renovations begin and when will they be completed?
If the project is approved by the voters in March of 2018, the project would be tentatively scheduled for bidding and award in October and November. The additions would start immediately and be completed by July/August of 2020.
The interior renovations would be scheduled for over both summers, so as not to disrupt student and teacher classroom use. Therefore, the renovations would be completed by late August of 2020.
Will any other renovations/improvements be necessary in the near future?
The district and its professional consultants have worked diligently to identify the renovations and improvements necessary to the Northern Burlington County Regional Schools through the life of the loan. The district DOES NOT anticipate any additional major renovations and improvements in the foreseeable future. Of course, as is the case with homes and businesses, routine maintenance will be required for typical wear and tear on the facilities.
What is the outcome, if the referendum is not passed?
The Board will move forward in planning the repairs, renovations and new construction without state aid or amortizing the costs over 30 years.
Impact on Students, Staff & Community
How many students attend the NBC Regional School District?
Total current enrollment is 2,204 students. There are 835 students in grades 7-8 and 1,366 students in grades 9-12. Enrollment has increased by 407 over the past eight years, and is projected to continue to increase over the next several years.
How many employees does the Northern Burlington County Regional District currently employ?
For the 2017-2018 school year there are 306 employees district wide, including teachers, counselors, nurses, secretaries, school bus drivers, building and grounds personnel, administrative support staff and administrators.
If the referendum is approved, how will the district ensure that educational programs and the safety of students and staff are maintained during construction?
The District has retained the services of an experienced architect, and will hire a reliable construction management firm that specializes in working with school facilities. The construction management firm will work with our architect and administration to develop the appropriate plans for keeping students and staff safe.
Financial Information & Tax Impact
What is the total cost of renovations and upgrades?
The total cost of the renovations and upgrades will be $39.7 million.
What will the tax impact be on Northern Burlington County Regional homeowners, if the bond referendum is approved?
If the referendum is approved on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, the tax impact on the four communities served by the district will be:
|Average Home Assessment||$391,063||$247,600||$315,602||$276,058|
|Estimated Annual Tax Impact||$184.58||$188.30||$162.90||$207.31|
|Estimated Monthly Tax Impact||$15.38||$15.69||$13.58||$17.28|
Why are school construction costs so much higher than residential or private business construction costs?
The cost of construction for educational facilities is significantly higher than residential construction costs. There are a number of factors that contribute to higher costs:
- First and foremost, labor rates for all construction workers are based on union rates (otherwise known as prevailing wage).
- The requirements for heating, ventilation, and cooling are more stringent for schools than housing.
- The type of construction utilized to conform to building codes has higher costs.
- The need for fire alarm and intercom systems add to higher construction costs on a square-foot basis.
- The use of fire-rated materials for walls and doors raises costs.
- Bidding laws require higher insurance costs; there also are bonding requirements.
How will the proposed referendum affect taxes for senior citizens?
Seniors and people with disabilities may be protected from future property tax increases by applying for the Property Tax Reimbursement Program (Senior Freeze). Seniors and people with disabilities must meet eligibility requirements, which can be found on the NJ Division of Taxation website: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/ptr/index.shtml.
For more information, go to the website, or call the NJ Division of Taxation at 1-800-882- 6597
What happens if the total cost of the projects is less than the amount approved in the March 13th referendum?
State law requires the district to return all unused bond proceeds to the taxpayer in the form of tax relief. The district is not permitted to utilize the bond proceeds for projects other than those approved by voters in the referendum.
What if the actual costs of the projects exceed the amount approved in the March 13th referendum?
State law prohibits the district from spending more than that stipulated in the bond referendum approved by the voters. The district believes the overall plan includes prudent estimates. However, in the unlikely event that actual costs of the project exceed the gross bond proceeds, the district will search for more efficient means of achieving the referendum’s overall objective and/or reduce the scope of work. The Northern Burlington County Regional Board of Education stresses cost-efficiency with its professionals.
Referendum State Aid
Is the NBC Regional School District eligible for state aid for the referendum projects?
The district will receive state aid for renovations and new construction costs of the high school that amounts to an overall state aid contribution of 26% or $10,378,043. The state aid reduces the local tax share to $29.3 million from $39.7 million. State aid is available only if the referendum passes; it is not available for projects completed within the annual budget.
Will the referendum affect the amount of annual state aid given to the NBC Regional School District?
No, the referendum will not affect the annual state aid given to the NBC Regional School District. The annual aid given is a combination of transportation aid and pupil aid, and is completely unrelated to referendum
When will the community vote on this referendum?
The referendum VOTE will take place on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.
When do voters have to be registered in order to vote on the referendum?
Voters must be registered by Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Voter registration forms will be available at the High School and Middle School Main Offices, and at many school events, as well as online http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/561/Voter-Registration.
There’s no need to register again. You will be able to vote in the March 13th referendum special election.
Are Vote by Mail ballots available?
Yes. Vote by Mail ballots are available, and can be found at the Northern Burlington County Regional High School and Middle School Main offices, or online at http://www.co.burlington.nj.us/996/Vote-by-Mail-Information.
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