Receiving Election Results - (left to right) Superintendent Dr. Brad Draeger, BOE President Ronnie Spring, LHS Principal Mark Stern, Mt. Pleasant Principal Debra Ostrowski, Heritage Middle School Principal Patricia Boland, former President of Riker Hill HSA Melissa Radin and Riker Hill Principal Jo Tandler.
Election reactions – Melissa Radin, former President of Riker Hill HSA (left), and Jo Tandler, Riker Hill Principal (right).
Livingston Votes Yes to School Referendum
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 • 11:47pm
LIVINGSTON, NJ - The unofficial election results are in.
On March 12, Livingston citizens cast their votes on an $18.2 million dollar school construction project. The school referendum was voted in with a 1,446 to 1,257 final count.
Upon entering the final voting location scores, attendees of the School Board poll presentation cheered at the results.
“Our community continues to put all of our children and their accommodations first,” said Board of Education President Ronnie Spring. “The vote is a reflection on why the Livingston School System is what it is and it starts with the community.”
The construction project will allow for the addition of 14 new elementary classrooms and three media centers and it will also bring full ADA compliance to the older portion of Livingston High School.
Large group instruction spaces and technology updates will be implemented through the construction of new media centers. Currently three of these libraries have not been renovated in over 50 years.
In addition, classrooms will be added to five elementary school buildings to help meet the demands of new student enrollment, reduce reliance on soft-borders, and reduce class sizes.
The elementary schools are operating at close to 100 percent capacity and 588 new homes are going to be built in town. Without the referendum, where would we put these kids?” asked Melissa Radin, prior President of Riker Hill Home School Association. “I care about my property value. We don’t have a train station in town so having a quality school district is our best bet for maintaining property values.”
Radin also expressed her excitement for not having to entertain “art on a cart” programs and the ability to offer more “in-house” attention to special education students.
The referendum will also allow the Livingston High School complex to be brought up to full compliance with federal laws regarding ADA accommodations for disabled students, and provide space for special education programs.
“Livingston residents take great pride in their public schools and they made a long-term commitment to their excellence by the passage of this referendum,” said Dr. Brad Draeger, Superintendent of Livingston Public Schools.
Construction is scheduled to begin in the early part of 2014. The new media centers will be added to Collins, Riker Hill, and Harrison, and the current library spaces will be changed into classrooms. Burnet Hill and Hillside will also have new classrooms added.
School leaders approved the referendum after participating in a long-term study which identified emergent needs to increase elementary capacity and bring 100 percent ADA compliance at the high school.
“This yes vote will allow Livingston Public Schools to be a lighthouse district for ADA accommodations, and deal with elementary capacity issues,” Draeger said. “But more importantly it ensures a steady and long-term future that accommodates the needs of all students.”
About 13 percent of registered voters in Livingston voting, 53.5 percent decided in favor of the referendum, said Steven Robinson, the district’s business administrator. The ballot passed by 189 votes.
“We want to thank the community who once again reaffirmed its support of our school District and our commitment to provide an exemplary education to all students,” said Ronnie Spring. Draeger also expressed thanks to the community and said that “even through difficult economic times, citizens are supporting our schools.”