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Tue March 10 th 2020
12:00PM - 8:00PM
 

FAQs

What is the Brighter Edison Referendum?

Brighter schools, better property values, and a stronger community go hand in hand. That’s why on Tuesday, March 10th, voters in Edison will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum to finance the relief of overcrowding in our schools. The 2020 Brighter Edison Referendum is a proposal to renovate and build additions to schools within our district to support our district’s students and ensure a seat for every child.

The Edison Township School District is facing overcrowded classrooms and deficient school resources. Hallways that should be used for socializing and transitioning between rooms are instead being used for makeshift classrooms and cafeterias. Special electives, music and arts classes are being held from rolling carts, and lunches are having to be cut short to alleviate traffic in the hallways. A Brighter Edison School Referendum means expanded facilities that meet State standards — and the classes and resources needed for students — at the following schools:

James Madison Intermediate School (Elementary) – Built in 1959

  • 8 additional classrooms
  • 2 musical classrooms
  • 2 small group instruction spaces
  • New multipurpose room with gym, stage, kitchen, and office space
  • Improved outdoor space and access to building, including upgraded entry to security
  • Air conditioning in all new construction

Lincoln Elementary School – Built in 1951

  • 9 additional classrooms
  • 1 small group instruction classroom
  • New multipurpose room/gym with stage and office space
  • Improved outdoor space and access to building, including upgraded entry to security
  • Renovated office and work spaces
  • Upgraded cafeteria space
  • Air conditioning in all new construction

John Marshall Elementary School – Built in 1961

  • 5 additional classrooms
  • 3 specialized classroom spaces for art, music, and small group instruction
  • Improved outdoor space and access to building, including upgraded entry to security
  • Renovated office, work and support space
  • Upgraded cafeteria space
  • Air conditioning in all new construction

John Adams Middle School – Built in 1960

  • 7 new classrooms
  • 2 state of the art science laboratories
  • 1 learning lab/classroom
  • 1 orchestra classroom with office space and storage
  • 1-story auxiliary gym and office space
  • Improved outdoor space and access to building, including upgraded entry to security
  • Barrier-free elevator and bathrooms to provide access to all students
  • Air conditioning in all new construction

John P. Stevens High School – Built in 1962

  • 33 new classrooms including a video technology space
  • 6 state of the art science laboratoriesz
  • Music technology/guitar recording lab
  • Improved physical education space including: three new stations, improved fitness center, main gym upgrades, and an additional gym
  • Upgraded media center (library)
  • Improved outdoor space and access to building including upgraded lobby with security and café area
  • Additional rooms for small group instruction and college and career center area
  • Upgraded office suite and guidance office
  • Renovated corridors to increase safety
  • Air conditioning in all new construction

Edison High School – Built in 1959

  • 15 new classrooms
  • 6 state of the art science laboratory spaces
  • Music/technology lab and instrumental music spaces
  • Additional physical education spaces including new main gym, high performance station, fitness room, dance studio, office spaces, and concession areas
  • Updates to media center (library)
  • Improved athletic facilities
  • Renovated office, nurse, and guidance suites
  • Cafeteria/commons area with seating for 200
  • Air conditioning in all new construction

For more information on the specifics of the Referendum and a complete list of the referendum’s proposed renovations, please visit the project pages.

When and where will the vote take place?

The vote will take place on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020, at regular polling locations between 12 pm – 8pm.

Why is the Brighter Edison Referendum necessary?

The average age of the infrastructure addressed in the Referendum is 61-years-old. These buildings are in need of both updates and additions. As a school district aiming to provide the best education possible, this Referendum addresses many unavoidable obligations.

Current Growth Impact– The impact of the growth of many of our schools cannot be overlooked. Multiple schools in the Edison Township School District are experiencing either ‘severe’ or ‘peak’ overcrowding. Within the Edison Township School District, 2,949 students are unseated, meaning there are 2,949 more students than what the state has assessed the school district buildings to have space for (as seen in the long range facilities plan). This level of overcrowding shows no signs of stopping; our middle and high school populations are projected to continue growing in the coming years. This Referendum would address growth impact by adding capacity, thus reducing class sizes and overcrowding.

Safety – Now more than ever the safety of our schools is of the utmost importance. This Referendum aims to improve circulation, access, and supervision. The need for stand-alone trailers would also be eliminated, which will further contribute to the safety of schools. Improvements include more secure entryways and lobby vestibules, enhanced student pickup and drop-off locations, and increase parking space.

Infrastructure – Necessary improvement to infrastructures will help mitigate storm water runoff, drainage, and flooding conditions while providing needed energy efficiency upgrades.

Future Growth Impact – While the elementary school population is projected to decline, the aforementioned growth of our current student population occurring across our district will continue to pose problems if not addressed in the imminent future. The school district is projected to increase by over 100 students per year over the next 5 years. Students — both now and in years to come — shouldn’t have to learn in hallways. Our students deserve classrooms where they can be present in an environment conducive to learning. Additionally, this Referendum addresses the need for full-day kindergarten within the Edison Township School District and makes it possible.

Improved Educational Adequacy – The Edison Township School District wants to be known for its educational adequacy, and as of right now there is room for improvement. Along with expanded capacity, the passing of this Referendum would allow the district to match the key offerings of other school districts. These offerings include full-day kindergarten, art, music, and multipurpose activities, improved science labs, gymnasium space, and small group learning classrooms. A Brighter Edison means a brighter future.

How does the Brighter Edison Referendum benefit the students?

The Brighter Edison Referendum will alleviate severe overcrowding and the temporary measures that have been used to manage it. The referendum will bring 21stcentury learning opportunities to our students – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), media rooms, science labs, robotics, etc. to meet New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Full Day Kindergarten will be available to Edison’s families. Updates to the aging infrastructures will make our schools safer and a better learning environment.

How does the Brighter Edison Referendum benefit home owners?

A high-quality school system strengthens the community.

  • Potential homebuyers are reluctant to buy in districts with overcrowded schools, driving down the selling price of our homes and hurting equity for homeowners. An investment in the Edison School District is an investment in our community, with a positive impact on your property value. Families with children or who plan to have children often ask their realtors about the school system before anything else. It is one of the most commonly asked questions by home buyers. Not only does improving our school district drive up our school ratings but also the perceived value of our community as a desired place to live.
  • Edison is one of less than 10% of the school districts in New Jersey to only provide half-day kindergarten. This is not a point of pride – in fact, it hurts our reputation as a progressive, idealistic place to live.
  • Overcrowding within our high school buildings make the need for split schedule (double session) high school education a very real threat. This would not only negatively impact the student’s educational experience (learning everything they need to know in half the time) but will drive residents away who want better educational opportunities for their college-bound children.

What are the benefits of the proposed additions and renovations?

  • Could bring Full Day Kindergarten to our school district.
  • Alleviate severe overcrowding and the temporary measures that have been used to manage it.
  • Bring our students back inside by eliminating the need for trailers.
  • Expand 21st century learning opportunities – STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), media rooms, science labs, robotics, etc.
  • Provide an ideal lunch time and more space to enjoy it in.
  • Student-focused fitness and physical education with larger gyms and additional spaces.
  • Classrooms for languages, art, and music classes to provide better teaching environments in these subjects.

Why do we need a Long Range Facilities Plan?

The state requires all school districts to have a 5 year Long Range Facilities Plan. This is an important tool that provides the district with the capital infrastructure to meet upgrade/replacement requirements and to ensure the efficient operation of the school facilities and the safety and security of the staff and students. In addition, it provides the district with capital projects and estimated costs for future budgeting purposes as well as identify deficiencies in classroom space and core facilities for future expansion needs.

How much does the referendum cost? Where does the money go?

If approved, the total cost of this project will be $183,193,000. A portion of this expenditure — amounting to $31 million — will be covered by debt service aid provided by the state. The rest of the cost — amounting to $152,193,000 — will be covered by the total district share. The entirety of the project expenditure will be used to accomplish the aforementioned upgrades within each of the six schools mentioned. See the complete cost breakdown on the financials page. Any bonds collected that are not used for the project will be returned to taxpayers. The funds allocated for the project are all that will be utilized, there will be no requests for more.

How will the referendum impact my taxes?

Edison residents will on average see an estimated tax increase of $18 per month. This projection is based on a home assessed at $179,600 (the average tax assessed value of a home in Edison, New Jersey)

How many students attend Edison Township Schools?

In total, there are 16,622 students within the Edison Township School District.

What if I can't vote in person on March 10th?

Mail-in Ballots are available. Follow these instructions to mail in your vote:

  1. Fill out Absent Ballot Application: http://www.middlesexcountynj.gov/Government/Departments/Admin/Pages/MailinBallots.aspx
  2. Return Application to County Clerk by March 3rd
  3. Upon receipt of Absentee Ballot, complete and return ASAP. Vote by Mail ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, March 10.
  4. In-Person Applications are accepted by the County no later than 3pm on March 10th.

What happens if the Referendum is not approved?

Classes will grow even more overcrowded. Additional trailers, split schedules (double sessions) for high school students, and other short-term solutions. Redistricting. Being one of the few school districts in New Jersey who do not provide Full-Day Kindergarten.

If approved, when would the project be completed?

If the Brighter Edison Referendum is approved on March 10th, the projected completion date is targeting within 3 years, however, some renovations are required to be done during summer breaks; some projects beginning construction as early as the summer of 2020.

Who can I contact if I have questions, comments, or suggestions?

Contact Dr. Bragen at bernard.bragen@edison.k12.nj.us or more information.

How might failure to pass the referendum negatively impact property value?

For example, if someone were expected to pay an increase of $12,500 over the life of 30 years of the bond if it passes – the result of the referendum not passing to equate to a loss of 50K-60K in property value during that time.

What about people who can’t vote?

You must be a registered voter to vote on the Referendum. While non-registered voters cannot cast a vote, they have a voice – use it and be informed – share your knowledge with others who can vote.

Why do we need the Referendum over and above the annual 2% budget increase?

Edison has one of the lowest cost per pupil in the state. The annual 2% budgeted increase allows the District to maintain its contractual agreements with employees and keep up with rising costs of medical benefits as well as other cost of living adjustments.

The BOE has stayed below the 2% cap to approximately 10 million. If the bond is approved, the board will go into the saved bank cap and still be below the 2%.

How will passing the referendum affect teacher and administration costs?

The district currently have “additional” staff on board as secondary instructors in some of the large-size classes – due to staff numbers directly following student growth and educational needs. These personnel can be reassigned to instruct in new classrooms.

Any hiring of new staff when needed in the future will be part of the future budgeting efforts by the BOE and Administration to stay within the state cap for your annual operations budget.