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A Game of Tug of War Over the Bond Referendum: Wayne vs. Board of Education

Board members at Wayne Hills High School on February 15th

Feeling cornered by the growing need for repairs and expansion in Wayne Township Public Schools, the Board of Education has decided to propose a Bond Referendum. 

This proposal says that the Board of Ed. will sell bonds, which will then be paid back through property taxes over the coming years. Since Wayne residents would be paying these taxes, they will vote on March 12 to decide if our district can and should finance the $169.8 million dollars worth of proposed projects.

These projects aim to fix safety hazards and infrastructural obstacles in Wayne schools, thus refocusing the classroom towards learning. In recent years, it has come to the Board of Ed.’s attention that multiple schools are lacking in terms of safety, technological advancements, and population organization. Repairs to roofs, windows, and HVAC must be made, in addition to two-stage security entrances and sturdy bleachers which must be installed. 

One of the larger projects consists of adding space at the Preakness Early Childhood Center to accommodate rising enrollment. This school would hold PreK-5 students, with three classrooms at each grade level and additional ones for special education programs. The population of Wayne is growing and its schools are noticeably lacking in some areas, so the Board of Ed. feels that now is the perfect time to address these issues.

However, not every Wayne resident supports the Referendum. Questions have been raised about the relationship between the money being spent and the taxpayer. Only $39 million of the proposed nearly $170 million would be covered in state aid, and the rest would be paid by taxpayers. 

Mayor Vergano, in a presentation on the tax impact of the Referendum, expressed concern about the “size of the bond, the cost, and the long-term negative effect if it is passed.” He added that this Referendum would raise taxes on some homes and decrease that of others, as well as increase municipal and Board of Ed. taxes. Overall, he believes that what these projects are asking for “exceeds what the town can afford.”

On the other hand, the Board of Ed. has responded to the concern of skyrocketing tax rates by explaining that the assessed value of property will go up, but the tax rate will go down. According to Superintendent Dr. Toback, Wayne residents are being carefully considered in this Referendum. The Board of Ed. has considered what could bring in future savings and maximize state aid, thus minimizing property taxes. 

Junior Ethan Kim agrees with Toback, and feels that improvements to our education system are worth the subtle increase in taxes. “While there is a disadvantage of slightly higher taxes,” Ethan admitted, “I believe that the long run investments in our education system will prove to be the best choice for the future.” 

While the Board of Ed. sees this referendum as the only viable means of safety, excellence, and appropriate space in our school district, Mayor Vergano foresees the immediate and long-term consequences of this town-wide expense.

Similarly, Wayne residents are split over this issue, and the final vote deciding whether or not the referendum will move forward will take place on March 12. According to Dr. Toback, if the Referendum fails, everything will remain “status quo”, and no state aid will be given unless another Referendum is proposed. Although the Board of Ed. is confident that this Referendum is responsive to the needs which exist right now, who will ultimately win the game of tug of war is still up in the air. 

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About the Contributor
Stephanie Tulpan, Junior Editor
Stephanie is a junior here at Wayne Hills. She has been writing for the Patriot Press ever since her freshman year, and is currently the 2023-2024 Junior Editor. She primarily enjoys writing about school news and culture/entertainment news. She is an officer in several other clubs, including student council and French Club, and is also a member of the Wayne Hills Dance Team.

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