Special Hopewell Valley school board meeting Monday

Topics will be proposed Sept. 28 referendum and 2004-2005 budget plan.

By John Tredrea
   The Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education is expected to make a decision Monday about holding a referendum on Sept. 28.
   Discussion will take place at a special meeting set for 7:30 p.m. in the board meeting room, 425 S. Main St., Pennington.
   Whatever plan is chosen, it will include a dollar amount for the referendum. School officials will be working through Monday on what that amount could be.
   Also expected during Monday night’s session is a board vote to introduce the school district’s proposed budget for 2004-2005. An estimated amount of the budget was not available at press time.
   School district spokeswoman JoAnn Meyer said school officials will be working on budget figures in tandem with their referendum work through Monday. The school district’s budget will go before voters April 20, when school district elections are held statewide. In Hopewell Valley, the elections will include election of three school board members as well as a decision on the 2004-2005 budget.
   School officials have said a decision will have to be made this month if the district is to meet the state-mandated timetable for a Sept. 28 referendum.
   Discussed at a Jan. 20 board meeting were updated costs for Superintendent Nick Lorenzetti’s referendum proposal, which had been unveiled to the board in December. By January, actual architectural estimates of various projects included in the proposed referendum had driven the total cost from a projected $11.9 million to $17.4 million.
   Projects included in the proposed referendum include eight new classrooms at Timberlane Middle School. Expansion of the fitness and locker rooms at Timberlane also are included, as are renovations of that school’s small auditorium, student services space, plus renovation and expansion of its kitchen, cafeteria, fine and performing arts center.
   Roof and drainage work at Timberlane, the high school and Bear Tavern also would be paid for by the referendum.
   Items that could be deleted from the proposal to bring the cost back down somewhat include: $750,000 for technology upgrades, $400,000 to repair the facade at the front entrance to Central High School, $408,000 to convert a multipurpose room in the high school to a facility for use by the wrestling team and dance classes, and $108,000 for a marching band at the high school.
   Superintendent Lorenzetti said the overhanging façade of the high school is not a safety hazard now, but will become one unless it is repaired or removed. Removing it instead of repairing it would be much cheaper, he said.