Rutherford Residents Are Reminded to Vote on Tuesday, Sept. 24th
Rutherford Public Schools' Press Release
School district’s bond proposal would meet enrollment demands and modernize facilities
RUTHERFORD, N.J. – All registered voters in the Borough of Rutherford can participate in the Sept. 24 special bond referendum for school improvements. The borrowing plan would meet the pressing needs of higher enrollment and aging facilities. It was reformulated from a 2018 proposal, and dubbed One Rutherford to recognize the perspectives of many segments of the borough. The school district offered numerous ways for the public to learn about the proposal, including meetings, information mailed to every home and the dedicated website www.OneRutherford.com.
The public is invited to tour some of the proposed project sites during one-hour time slots on Saturday, Sept. 14: 9 a.m. at Rutherford High School, 10 a.m. at the Kindergarten Center (Sylvan), and 11 a.m. at Union School. A full overview of the proposal will be presented at the school board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16 in the High School Auditorium.
The proposal would solve critical core problems to keep Rutherford Public Schools’ reputation as a high quality district in a desirable community:
- Add space to correct undersized facilities and crowded classrooms
- Expand and improve spaces for science, arts, library and physical education
- Add instructional and support space for students with special needs
- Update science labs at the high school, and renovate space to create them at Union Middle
Enrollment in Rutherford schools is already up and projected to rise higher, resulting in a gain of about 225 students over a 10-year time frame from 2013 through 2024. In addition to classrooms, that enrollment boom has created the need for more gym, library, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and arts spaces. The district has received year-by-year waivers to a state rule that requires in-classroom restrooms for kindergarten, but has been advised that they need a plan of action. Students in grade 7 and 8 have no science labs at Union School, and high school students can’t meet current science curriculum standards in labs that are approaching 50 years old.
“A bond proposal is the best way to address these needs,” said Superintendent of Schools Jack Hurley. “It spreads out the cost and makes use of state aid that isn’t available any other way.”
Total proposed costs are $45.3 million, and state aid is committed to cover about $9 million of that amount. After state aid is accounted for, the annual cost on a home with an assessed value of $430,270 (the average in Rutherford) would be $336.77. That state aid is not available unless projects are voter-approved and bond-funded.
This Sept. 24 proposal is based on a Scope of Work that is significantly reduced compared to the one rejected in 2018. The pared-down plan focuses on meeting critical space and maintenance needs without making major changes to non-instructional areas. Most notably, it keeps the high school pool as a community resource rather than building a kitchen and cafeteria in that spot. That cut the Scope of Work and the price tag, and last year’s community feedback was a driving factor in the decision.
“Our take-away from 2018 was that the community recognizes that our schools and classrooms are overcrowded, and appreciates the need to modernize our classrooms and labs,” Hurley said. “The next step is to ask voters to consider a reformulated plan to meets the needs in a different way.”
Reminder to Vote
Some residents have already received Vote By Mail ballots, mostly due to action by the state in 2018. Since then, anyone who voted by mail in the 2016 presidential election should have received a ballot at the address on record. The Bergen County Clerk’s Office sent 557 Vote By Mail ballots in mid- August. If those voters show up at the polls on Sept. 24, they should ask to complete a “provisional ballot” to be counted if their Vote By Mail ballot was not submitted.
Residents who find voting by mail more convenient can still apply for a ballot. They can send in an application form to be received by Tuesday, Sept. 17, or they can hand-deliver that form to the Bergen County Clerk’s Office by 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23. Ballots must be postmarked by Sept. 24 to count in this election.
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polls for this bond referendum are the same as the ones used for a General Election. Your voting location is listed on the sample ballot sent in the mail. You can also confirm your assigned polling place by entering your address into this state Poll Locator.