NORTHERN VALLEY, N.J. -- A $11.7 million referendum being voted on today for improvements at Northern Valley Regional High Schools at Demarest and Old Tappan won't boost taxes, district officials say.
If voters support the referendum, the state will pay 38 cents on the dollar for facility and equipment repair and upgrades, as well as for adding programs aimed "helping our students rise to the highest levels of the state and nation," Schools Supt. Dr. Geoff Gordon said.
If it fails, "we still need to proceed with the [improvements]," said NVRHS Board Trustee GC Vaghasia of Norwood. "But it may take 10 or more years and we may not receive the state aide [that] is available to us this year.
"Above all, these projects are tax neutral due to the savings that we have identified in our general budget."
The plan includes:
• New "Career Pathways" courses tailored to students' career interests;
• Seven new Advanced Placement classes (among them, AP Macro/Micro Economics, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics 1 and 2);
• New STEM and physics labs;
• Auditorium renovation;
• Replacing/upgrading gym floor, athletic facilities, dangerous and outdated running tracks, deterioriated tennis and basketball courts;
• Upgrading security system, cameras, lighting, HVAC systems.
Vaghasia considered himself lucky to discover and pursue economics and international business while attending NVRHS -- but noted that "many children today commence college without a career in mind.
"It's not their fault. Often times, they are not introduced to different careers until they're in college. Sometimes this is too late."
The "Career Pathways" program "to the best of my knowledge will be the most advanced program of its type in NJ," said Gordon, the superintendent.
It will feature Business Management and Administration; Government and Public Administration; Marketing Sales and Service; Finance; Fine, Practical and Performing Arts; Human Services; Biomedical and Life Sciences; Information Technology and Computer Science, and senior options ranging from Open Ingenuity Lab to Honor Independent Capstone, Gordon said.
The polls are open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, in Closter, Demarest, Harrington Park, Haworth, Northvale, Norwood and Old Tappan. MORE INFO: http://www.nvnet.org/
Vaghasia noted that "the tennis courts have not been changed in over 30 years. We have spent approximately $150,000 over the past three years in putting Bandaids over the tennis courts and track."
A new auditorium, upgraded security cameras and new HVAC units "are all necessities in today's competitive world," he added.
A similar referendum of $13.5 million failed last year after only 10% of voters participated.
"In my view, it was defeated due to the lack of information that was conveyed to the sending districts," Vaghasia said. "Many of us, including myself, really had no idea what we were really voting for.
"This time, things are different. [District officials] have truly taken the bull by its horns."
"The goal is simple and direct," Gordon emphasized. "We are aiming to become the Number 1 district in New Jersey -- not one of the best but the very best."