Brooklawn Board of Education Plans Second Referendum to Purchase St. Maurice Property; State to Provide 68% of Funding | cnbnews.net
press release August 29, 2013
BROOKLAWN NJ--The Brooklawn Board of Education has approved a December 10, 2013 date to hold a bond referendum to borrow $2 million to purchase the St. Maurice church and rectory (photo above) and to renovate the buildings to classroom and office space. The St. Maurice properties are adjacent to the Alice Costello School and have been vacant since the Diocese of Camden consolidated three local parishes, St. Maurice, St. Anne in Westville, and Annunciation BVM to form St. Joachim Parish in Bellmawr. The initial referendum in March was defeated by twelve votes. At that time, the state was providing no funding in support of the initiative. However, the state is now expected to provide 68% of the funding, which means the local share will be approximately $640,000.
Superintendent John Kellmayer said, “As it turned out, we were very fortunate that the March referendum was defeated. The Department of Education is now providing the great majority of the funding. The school district and community are now in an outstanding position to acquire this property at a local cost that is actually significantly less than the appraised value.”
The plan calls for the construction of classrooms, a stage, and other instructional locations and the relocation of Grades 6, 7, and 8 from the current building to the church to establish the Brooklawn Middle School. The plan would also allow the district to create self-contained special education programs that would allow Brooklawn special education students who currently are sent to out-of-district programs at considerable cost to the taxpayer, to remain in the district. In addition, other special programs, including a state-of-the art Brooklawn Virtual Center that will benefit the entire community are being considered. The purchase may also provide additional office space for the borough. The Board is committed to acquiring the St. Maurice property at no cost to local taxpayers and to maintain the current exterior of the church and rectory.
Board of Education President, Bruce Darrow, commented, “With the state now paying 68% of the costs, this is an unbelievable opportunity for the school district, one that will benefit the community for decades to come and that should not add even one cent to the tax rate. Through innovative financial strategies and the provision of an outstanding education and extra-curricular activities, the school district has been at the minimum tax levy for more than 10 years now, has built a library, gym, and has made extensive renovations to the current school building, and all without any cost to the local taxpayers. The Board is committed to acquiring St. Maurice without any impact on taxes. We built a gym and library at no cost to taxpayers. We replaced the roof, windows, and boilers at no cost to taxpayers. We operate a community library at no cost to taxpayers. And we hope to acquire St. Maurice at no cost to taxpayers. T he Board remains committed to working with the entire community, including Mayor and Council, to find innovative ways to continue the success of the school district for the benefit of not only the students but all the residents of Brooklawn.”
Mark Dickerman, Board of Education Vice President remarked, “Like many other lifelong parishioners, it was hard watching for me St. Maurice close its doors. But as a school board member, it was clear its closing provided an opportunity to make the best out of a sad situation. Acquiring the church, would give us much more flexibility and improve classroom utilization. It would provide the space to set up self-contained classrooms for Brooklawn special education children who are currently bussed out of district to costly programs. Also, our pre-K is located in a remote area of the school, which in today’s society could be viewed as a safety concern. We will be able to split the music and art classrooms and to relocate the classroom that is currently off the gym. We haven’t raises taxes in more than ten years and take great pride in what we’ve been able to provide by thinking outside the box. I hope the residents of Brooklawn will be willing to trust us one more time, and come out in support for this referendum. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the community.”