P'burg School District plans to close, sell schools

Author: , Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published: Nov 12 2013 06:00:05 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 12 2013 07:10:23 PM EST
PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. -

The Phillipsburg School District wants to make some big changes.

Officials want to sell off schools and ask voters an $8.5 million question.

District officials say bond money will help update district facilities and the whole project can be done with no new tax dollars.

Call it a ripple effect of growth.

A new Phillipsburg high school means another building in the district and more options for the administration.

"Something like this was last done in Phillipsburg in the late 1960's when they closed five aging buildings at that time and constructed three buildings," said George Chando, superintendent of the Phillipsburg School District.

Now district officials are looking at closing three buildings once the new high school is completed.

The plan will be to close Barber and Freeman Elementary schools.

The district will also close Howell, one of the district's alternative schools.

Parent Kristina Thompson says she's sad all four of her children won't attend the same place.

"I liked going to Barber school," added Thompson. "We've put all of the rest of them through it, so I would like to send him through."

The students will be relocated to other schools in the district and Barber School will be converted into the Phillipsburg School District Office.

The whole transition will cost $10.8 million.

$2.3 million will come from the District Capitol Improvement Fund and the district would issue a bond for the rest.

"I'm not in favor of my taxes going up because I have no children in the system," said Philipsburg resident, Donald Skelly.

District officials say the bond won't increase taxes because other bonds will be paid off.

Plus the district will save $435,000 in rent payments by moving into a building they own.

"In essence, we will be using approximately $700,000 of current funds that we are spending to be able to pay down on the bond," said Chando. "There by causing a zero percent tax increase."

The vote on the $8.5 million bond will be held in September of 2014.

Until then district officials plan to hold public meetings to answer any questions from voters.