Monroe school officials discuss challenges with state commissioner of education visit


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MONROE – District challenges with state funding, aging facilities and increased enrollment were topics of discussion during a recent visit from Dr. Lamont Repollet, New Jersey commissioner of education.

Repollet, along with State Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Middlesex County School Superintendent Kyle Anderson visited Applegarth Elementary School at the request of Schools Superintendent Dori Alvich, her administration and the district Board of Education on Jan. 21.

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Administrators and dignitaries discussed the district’s challenges with state funding, aging facilities and increased enrollment.

“The district is at a tipping point where the continued student enrollment growth and failed referendum may begin to impact the outstanding programs and education that we currently provide our students,” Alvich said. “It has not been unknown that the district is in need of facilities to house over 1,400 unhoused students as well as plan for future enrollment growth. Two failed referenda in 2018 and 2019 contribute to the challenges. Currently there are 10 portable classroom units at the Monroe Township Middle School and the district is planning for an additional four portable classroom units at the Monroe Township High School for the 2020-21 school year.”

Voters defeated a two-question, $146 million referendum in March 2019. The first question asked voters if they were in favor of building a new middle school on a 35-acre site at Applegarth and Cranbury Station roads. The school would have housed 1,000 students and cost $75 million to build. The first question was defeated by 995 votes.

The second question asked voters if they were in favor of building an addition to Monroe Township High School at a cost of $71 million. The proposed high school addition was contingent on the passage of the middle school question. The second question was defeated by 1,152 votes.

This is the second referendum put forth by the board which residents have defeated. In 2018, a $68.8 million referendum that proposed the construction of a new middle school was defeated by 143 votes.

The Board of Education commissioned an Ad Hoc Committee after the failed referendum to review options for housing students. The Ad Hoc Committee gave their recommendation to the board at a meeting on Jan. 22 and the district is now investigating the feasibility of their recommendation for a future referendum.

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