The Hillsborough Township Public Schools are “thankful” this holiday season.
Voters headed to the polls and passed two referendum questions on Nov. 7 – one on school security and one on bringing back 20 staff positions that were cut due to targeted state aid decreases, school officials said.
For question one, Hillsborough Township and Millstone voters were asked if they wanted to provide the safest possible environment for all children by increasing the tax levy $934,636 to create a districtwide, K-12, security department. Currently, the district has no district employees who are security personnel.
With 100% of district reporting, the question received 6,299 “yes” votes and 5,324 “no” votes.
For question two, Hillsborough Township and Millstone voters were asked if they wanted to bring back staff positions that were cut due to targeted state aid decreases that have hurt Hillsborough by increasing the tax levy $1,901,880 for the purpose of reducing class sizes and adding program offerings, interventionists and mental health supports.
With 100% of district reporting, the question received 6,503 “yes” votes and 4,973 “no” votes.
These positions (teachers and certificated staff) will be restored across the district from K-12 buildings and across content areas for the purpose of reducing class size, adding programs and offerings, and targeting individual needs. There are no administrative positions included in these 20 positions.
The proposed security department will have one coordinator of security operations and nine building monitors.
One of the questions in a document titled Frequently Asked Questions about the referendum on the district website states “is the district thankful to the residents of Hillsborough?”
“More than you know!” the statement read. “Thank you for helping us to support students and staff, to keep our schools strong, to provide hope for keeping Hillsborough’s property values strong, and to maintain Hillsborough as one of the best places to live in America!”
Schools Superintendent Michael Volpe had said the decision to put two referendum questions on the ballot came down to math.
As of the adopted budget in April, the Hillsborough school tax rate has decreased from 1.461 per $100 of assessed value of a home in 2022-23 to 1.391 in 2023-24. Even if both separate questions to the taxpayers passed, the overall tax rate will still go down to 1.428, Volpe had said during one of the “Build the Boro Back” presentations.
For a home assessed at $700,000, voting down the questions, taxes will go down $490.
For a home assessed at $700,000, voting for the two questions, taxes will still go down at $291.
Volpe called it a “win-win.”
Hillsborough and Millstone taxpayers will receive a supplemental tax bill associated with the approved referendum questions as these funds are being used during the 2023-24 school year. The school district is hiring personnel this school year based on the successful referendum.
A supplemental tax bill will come from the township which will then release funds to the school district. The township works with the county tax assessor, not the school district, as to a timeline and how the supplemental taxes will be collected. The supplemental tax bill should be mailed to residents in late December from the township.
The amount of the supplemental tax supporting the referendum questions will be equally divided and collected with the normal tax payment due dates of Feb. 1 and April 1. However, there will be two payments on each date. One for the normal tax bill and one for the newly created supplemental tax bill.
It is anticipated that these positions from the approved referendum questions will be filled as soon as possible. The district is targeting January 2024 as a start date for its first hires.