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Marlboro school board president details referendum

Typing Letter to the Editor for the Opinion page.

By Debbie Mattos

I am currently serving as the proud president of the Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education. Although as president I am able to speak on behalf of the board, I am choosing to express my personal views on why our referendum on Sept. 26 is necessary for our students and community.

I intend to provide facts and to clarify and in some cases debunk recent claims that were written by a current board member and two past board members in the News Transcript.

This is our third capital improvement referendum. Our first referendum included an expansion to the early learning center in order to implement a full-day kindergarten program and also included a plan to address our priority capital improvements.

The second and current referendum focus upon priority capital improvements. We are holding this referendum because these critical needs directly impact our children.

It was recently written that some of our equipment “could use updating” and that the “safety and learning environment of our children is certainly not negatively impacted.” It was also stated that “there is no proof the replacement of equipment within the scope of the referendum is not able to be repaired.”

District Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds Michael Crivelli said, “Every item in the referendum should be replaced. We have boilers that are 40 to 60 years old. The integrity of the steel is coming into question. Two years ago at Asher Holmes a piece of steel fell off of a hot water heater. We had to weld the tank and hope for the best until we could purchase and install a replacement. I am very concerned about our current systems and we must have a plan to replace in the near future.”

In the Sept. 13 News Transcript, a board member stated, “I question how necessary and emergent these repairs are … and claims that all the parts for our older equipment are not available are not true.”

Our district architect, Ted Hopkins, said, “We completed a comprehensive review of all district facilities. We recommended only top priority items to be replaced. The selected items are old, in poor condition and the equipment has exceeded its useful life. Availability of replacement parts is dwindling rapidly, as manu-
facturers do not keep parts for vintage equipment. It is critical that these items be replaced before the equipment stops working. A replacement of these critical systems will allow the schools to continue to be safe and operational.”

A current board member suggested having smaller, multiple referendums as an alternate plan. This would not only create a larger expense to the taxpayer as the costs would increase related to the professionals hired for each individual project, but it could also create infrastructure inequities throughout the district.

The teachers who we entrust to educate our children also support our efforts to improve Marlboro schools.

Karen Bartlett, president of the Marlboro Township Education Association, who supports the referendum efforts of this board, said, “We need to bring our facility standards back to an exemplary status conducive to the safe learning environment it once was.”

On Sept. 26, you will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum that will contain vital upgrades to the district’s infrastructure that must be addressed. Wouldn’t you rather pay with a 40 percent discount addressing items that affect our children’s learning environment rather than paying 100-plus percent of the cost?

This referendum will: (1) not increase current debt service taxes; (2) address every priority facility need in our entire district; and (3) keep our buildings safe and secure for our children for many years to come. My answer is a resounding “yes.”

Neither I, nor our board or administrative team would ever do anything to misinform the public about this referendum. Nothing is more important to us than our integrity and credibility with the public we were elected to serve.

We have worked tirelessly to provide the public with the actual facts about this essential referendum.

I take strong exception to the comments of those who accuse our efforts as “scare tactics, being misleading and spreading half-truths” and allege we use “words of deception.” This is simply false. I stand for my convictions, our district and our community.

Therefore, I encourage you to cast your vote by making an informed decision and ask that you support our school district on Sept. 26.

Please visit www.yesformarlboro.com for an accurate list of the specific and necessary repairs with their associated costs along with the listed FAQs. My email is dmattos@ mtps.org; the superintendent’s email is ehibbs@mtps.org.

Please feel free to contact either one of us with any further questions. Thank you for taking the time to make an informed decision and allowing me to passionately and proudly serve you, the taxpayer and our most valuable citizens — our children.

Debbie Mattos of Marlboro is the president of the Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education.

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