Morris Plains School District

Referendum - September 27, 2016

Academic Accomplishments

  • District rated “High Performing” in 2015 by the New Jersey Department of Education
  • 61% of staff identified as “Highly Effective” in 2015-2016. 39% rated “effective”
  • 2015 PARCC scores grades 5-8 ranked amongst the top 3 in Morris County (35 schools)
  • Based upon 2015 PARCC scores, MPSD outperformed (in Growth) 94% of the schools in the state in both Math and Language Arts.
  • One to One Chromebook Initiative grades 2-8
  • Master Schedule Enhancements; Increased Math Time and created STEM and iLab courses K-8 (STEM - Science, Technology, Engineerig, and Mathematics)
  • Strategic Plan (2013-2018) - Completed 93% of the 5 year plan developed by key stakeholders within the community. On target to complete the plan ahead of schedule.

Financial Accomplishments

  • Increased Capital Reserve by $700K from 2014 to 2016
  • In 2016, Consortium/Shared Service opportunities saved over $75K
  • Decrease in Morris School District tuition rate from $15,287 to $14,890
  • Restructured professional service contracts saving $70K
  • Increased preschool tuition revenue by 20%
  • Maintain School Choice revenue of $203K

Fiscal Responsibility

Facilities Accomplishments

(through operational budget)

  • Relocated Borough School Main Office to enhance security
  • Created Vestibule in Mountain Way to serve as vetting area
  • Wireless Access Point - every classroom
  • Painted all hallways and stairs at both schools
  • Locker Room Renovation in Borough School
  • New classroom flooring in Mountain Way
  • New LED lights throughout Borough School hallways
  • New security alarm system in both schools

Referendum History

The last time the Morris Plains School District asked the community to support a referendum was 2002. The 11.75 million referendum passed, and it addressed new HVAC systems at both schools, new interior doors, new lavatories, elevators, the Borough School lunch room and computer lab, and a new Kindergarten wing at Mountain Way.

Borough School History

Borough School History

  • Borough School’s original construction dates back to 1923. Many of the windows date to the origin of the building.
  • In 1958, the Speedwell wing and main office area was added.
  • The last renovation in the auditorium dates back to 1985. The Borough School Auditorium is not ADA compliant.
  • In 2010 and 2013, the school underwent roof repairs.

Referendum Facts

The first question ($5,213,944 million) addresses the following energy efficient and operational projects:

Borough School:
New windows and blinds, new classroom lighting (LED), new hallway flooring, new service panels, new exterior metal doors/frames, and partial roof replacement.

Mountain Way: HVAC upgrades


The second question ($1,028,831 million) supports an ADA compliant renovation project to the auditorium at Borough School:

Replacing the seats on the main floor, re-upholster balcony seats, new carpeting, new ceiling and stage lighting, new balcony façade, acoustics, and new stage curtains.

Referendum Facts

  • MPSD is seeking the community’s support through a bond referendum for approximately $6.2 million.
  • Of the total cost for each question on the ballot, 40% will be offset by the state with no property tax increase. Net result will be $3.72 million impact to the taxpayers.
  • The financing will be a 15-year loan.
  • In 7 years, the 2003 bond will mature, resulting in a reduction in debt service.
  • Replacing all lights in the district with LED lights will result in immediate energy cost savings for the district by 50%, which is approximately $75K annually.
  • 35 million dollar increase in town valuation. First increase in town valuation in over five years. The ratable base is projected to continue to rise.

Voting Information

Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Time: 3:30pm - 9:00pm

Location: Borough School Auditorium

(enter through Main Entrance)

Question 1: Window Replacement at Borough School

Question 1: Replace hallway flooring in Borough School

Question 1: Replace all classroom lighting with LED lights

Question 1: Replace exterior doors at Borough School

Question 2: Renovate Borough School Auditorium

Question 2: Borough School Auditorium Renovation Project

Public Outreach Sessions

July 19th: Democratic Club Committee (8:00pm)

July 29th: Summer Theater Performance - Borough School (7pm)

August 8th: Senior Club - Community Center (1:00pm)

August 27th: Farmer’s Market (8:30am - 2:00pm)

September 10th: Farmer’s Market (8:30am - 2:00pm)

September 12th: Republican Club Committee (7:30pm)

September 16th: Morris Plains Rotary

September 17th: Public Forum - Borough School Auditorium (12pm)

September 20th: Public Forum - Borough School Auditorium (7pm)

September 24th: Farmer’s Market (8:30am - 2:00pm)

Frequently Asked Questions

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, the Morris Plains School District is no longer able to include capital improvements such as window replacements, classroom lighting enhancements, flooring replacement, and auditorium renovations in the annual budget. The bond referendum that is being proposed in Morris Plains Schools 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 Morris Plains Board of Education Finance Committee has 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 Morris Plains 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 to historically low interest rates, the Department of Education has determined that our projects qualify for approximately 40% funding of the total project cost. Debt Service aid is the only way for suburban schools to get decent State Aid.

How do the projects appear on the ballot?
The projects in the bond referendum are presented in TWO PROPOSALS on the ballot. Voters will vote for EACH PROPOSAL SEPARATELY.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am a resident of Morris Plains but I have no children in the schools; why should I vote “yes” on this Referendum?
When completed, school improvements lead directly to better student performance—and as a result, to more valuable communities. According to a 2010 report in the Wall Street Journal, there is a higher correlation between school performance and home values. The increased availability of school data has led to more families searching for homes based on the quality of schools in the neighborhood. Also, in a recent study by the Brookings Institution, they found that housing costs tend to be higher in areas where high-scoring schools are located. In fact, the study found an average difference of $205,000 in home prices between houses near high-performing and low-performing schools.

When does the Board of Education expect Construction to Begin?

Upon approval of the referendum by the voters, nearly all projects could begin as early as summer of 2017.

How long will this bond be in effect?

The referendum is seeking authority for a 15-year bond totaling $6.2M. 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 would consider refinancing the bonds if it in future years it proves beneficial for taxpayers.

What happens to my property taxes if the referendum is approved?

An average Morris Plains taxpayer with a home assessed value of $450,000 will see an average annual property tax increase of $130. This increase will fluctuate slightly annually based on actual ratables.

Frequently Asked Questions

How were the projects selected for the September 27, 2016 bond?
The Morris Plains Board of Education worked with an architect to build a long range facility plan prioritizing those which are deemed more urgent. The projects in the upcoming bond are considered the most critical to keep all of our schools functioning efficiently and effectively. Borough School is 92 years old and the building requires repairs and improvements . While the district has worked hard to maintain facilities and some improvements have been made over the years; the school is not energy efficient and ADA compliant, and it does not represent the standard of excellence we embody as a school community. Borough School does not address the needs of today and tomorrow's teachers and learners. Board discussion on the referendum began in November 2015.

Where can I get more information?
Please review the Referendum link on the district website, under “Quick Links,” and attend special referendum presentations. You may also contact the Morris Plains School District at (973) 531-9586.

Are there programs available for senior citizens to offset the tax increases of a proposed referendum?

Yes, you can find information about possible tax reimbursements at the link below. If anyone is on a senior freeze, there will be zero increase in taxes. Property Tax Reimbursement Eligibility Requirements - http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/ptr/eligibility.shtml