The Point Borough School district will ask voters on Dec. 10 to approve a referendum of nearly $16 million for new roofs and other capital improvements at the four public schools.
The primary reason the district is moving forward with the project now is because the state has pledged to reimburse the district for 40 percent of the cost through state debt service aid, said Schools Superintendent Vincent Smith at Monday night's Board of Education meeting at Ocean Road School.
"For a long time, the state said 'No debt service aid,' but then they announced around early May that it would be available," Smith said. "This money may not always be there, so we should move forward now. This is for items that are all basic maintenance, like new roofs and boilers."
Sue Byington, Board President, said after the meeting, "This way of doing it is respectful and responsible to the taxpayers because we waited until we found out we would get the debt service funds from the state."
A new roof is being worked on now at Ocean Road School, so that will not be part of the referendum, said Smith after the meeting.
However, the referendum will provide for new roofs at the other three public schools, as well as new boilers at some of the schools and other improvements, Smith said.
He said the high school roof is probably in the worst shape of the four schools, but that all are critically in need of replacement. They are all 17 to 18 years old.
Smith said there is not enough time to get the referendum on the Nov. 5 general election, when the public will vote for Board of Education, local, county and federal seats.
He said if the referendum passes, the district will sell bonds to cover the local share of the cost. The number of years the bonds will be floated for, and how much it will cost each property owner per year, is not yet known since district officials still have to work out those details, Smith said.
Smith said there will be ample opportunity for the public to learn more about the referendum and proposed improvements. At the 7 p.m. Oct. 7 board workshop meeting, at the board office on Panther Path, the board will formally accept the state approval for the project. At the 7 p.m. Oct. 21 meeting at Ocean Road, the board will vote to hold the Dec. 10 referendum.
Also, Smith said he will speak to Parent Teacher Organizations and other groups to explain why the district is asking for the referendum and why the improvements are needed.
The board has been talking for a couple of years about replacing the school roofs and had researched potentially installing solar roofs, but is no longer contemplating that, said Smith and Byington.
"It's just not an efficient form of energy," Byington said. And if the roof needs to be fixed, solar panels have to be removed and then put back again, which can create potential problems, Smith said.