By: Rafeea Tamboli & Aashika Mehta
On November 6, as West Windsor and Plainsboro residents voted for Senators, House representatives, and Board of Education representatives, they also voted to pass a district-wide referendum. The election results, published on the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District website state that the referendum “passed in both communities by over 1,500 votes.”
The referendum focuses on four main issues: school safety, air quality, program improvements, and residential growth. The Board of Education proposed the referendum after reviewing the possibilities of expanding schools to increase student capacity, build and renovate facilities, and improve current school conditions. Dr. David Aderhold, Superintendent of the school district, said, “the goal of the referendum is to build facilities to address the needs of today and the growth of tomorrow.”
Currently, eight out of the ten schools are over capacity. High School North and High School South have not met maximum capacity; however, they have reached 85.29% and 95.95% of their total limit, respectively. With 4,176 new housing units being built––projected to bring in 1,784 new students in the next couple of years–– the referendum aims to improve school conditions and expand schools to accommodate future students.
The referendum will allocate $114,875,000 towards various repairs. According to documents published on the district website, the state will contribute $25,770,084, which accounts for 40% of all construction and renovation costs. West Windsor and Plainsboro will contribute $89,104,916 from the townships’ capital reserve funds. “All ten schools will be positively impacted by the approval of this referendum. There is no new tax impact on the construction portion of this $115 million referendum,” states the referendum brochure on the WW-P referendum resources page.
According to the proposal, all WW-P schools will receive funding. Community Middle School has the largest budget of $38,915,000, while Maurice Hawk has the smallest budget of $657,000. Some schools, like Maurice Hawk, Village, and Town Center, will not receive as much funding as other schools because they have already undergone or are currently undergoing major structural changes.
High School North will receive $17,547,000, approximately 15% of the total referendum budget. The money will be allocated towards improving North’s security; renovating the media center; renovating the home economics room to make it a culinary arts lab; replacing the heating, ventilation, and cooling system (HVAC) in 75 classrooms, core spaces (such as hallways), the TV studio, gyms, and the media center; creating a 2,600 square foot dance studio, along with new office, storage, and bathroom spaces. “I think this referendum will bring about positive change in the district by focusing on the issues that need to be solved to foster a better learning environment. Small things like better heating and a renovated media center will all collectively make a big difference,” said Senior Megha Gongalla.