Nutley Votes Down December 12th Referendum
On Tuesday, December 12, 2017, all registered Nutley voters were able to vote in the special School Board’s Referendum. The referendum was created by the Board of Education and administration in an effort address the overcrowding within the school district. The referendum included construction projects at four district schools: Washington Elementary School, Yantacaw Elementary School, John H. Walker Middle School and Nutley High School. More than 4,200 voters cast their ballots that day. The referendum was voted down 2,380 to 1,879.
The need for the referendum was a result of many years of overcrowding at the schools in the district. According to the Nutley Public Schools' website, a yes vote meant eliminating trailers at Washington and Yantacaw by adding additional classrooms and multi-purpose space at each school. This space would allow for smaller physical education classes and appropriate lunch schedules at Yantacaw and Washington. Each elementary school, in the district, would also gain classroom space because the sixth grade would move to John H. Walker Middle School. At the middle school, the sixth grade would join the seventh and eighth graders to create a true middle school model. Also, 20 new classrooms and multi-purpose space would be added to the middle school. Lastly, at Nutley High School there would also be additions including a new media center, four new classrooms and multi-purpose space. The overall benefits for the whole district would be enhanced security and increased academic rigor as students would have more appropriate learning spaces. The construction project offered a solution for 15 to 20 years. The construction projects would also increase taxes in the town. The annual tax impact on the average Nutley home was estimated to be $358.
According to the Nutley Public Schools' website, a no vote meant that schools would remain at the capacity and the class sizes will continue to rise. The district will be required to purchase more trailers by 2021. The trailers at Washington school will be stacked on top of one another, as more are added. Furthermore, new registrants may need to continue to attend a school other than their neighborhood school. Spaces not originally intended for instruction will have to continue to be utilized. Schools being overcrowded, with large classes, and students taking classes in spaces that are not intended as instructional spaces, will affect our academics.
Dr. Julie Glazer is the Superintendent of Nutley Public Schools. She joined Nutley in this role in July 2016. Although the overcrowding will have an impact on our academic programs, Dr. Glazer spoke very highly about Nutley’s staff. “We have a phenomenal staff, a phenomenal leadership team and people will continue to go above and beyond, but you can't keep doing that forever,” Dr. Glazer said.
Dr. Glazer believes that the Board of Education created the very best plan for a long term solution to the overcrowding. “From reading feedback and talking to community members, I think that it's very clear there is a lot of uncertainty in town,” Dr. Glazer said. “People are uncertain about taxes with the new tax bill. There is a tremendous amount of concern about development in town and I believe that all of that uncertainty worked against us. If I could have helped people understand that our budget is separate than the town’s budget, that might’ve been able to make a difference because it seems to be where there is still some confusion.”