Nutley parents hope referendum passes to alleviate overcrowded schools

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Many parents in an Essex County town say they are voting for a referendum that would approve nearly $67 million needed to help alleviate overcrowding in the town’s schools.

“We are 30 in some classes. We are at 25. We’re at 28. It’s just not the right environment for our kids,” says Board of Education president Dan Carnicella.

If the entire plan is passed, it will cost taxpayers $66.9 million. The average property tax bill would go up $394 per year. Parent say that it may sound expensive, but it could be worth it.

"The way I think about it is, it’s like $1.08 per day - to invest in your school and your town,” says parent Janice Fraser.

Fraser and fellow Nutley mom Melissa Blum are leading an effort called, "Say Yes to Nutley."

A “yes” vote calls for renovations to build seven new classrooms at Yantacaw School, six at Washington and even more at the centerpiece of the plan, the John Walker Middle School.

"We are looking at putting 20 classrooms on the extension to that side of the building.  Along with a multipurpose space or gym,” says Carnicella.

The district says that one of the plans to reduce overcrowding will be to take all of the sixth-grade students from each of the town’s elementary schools and move them to the middle school.

To help voters, the referendum is broken up into two parts. Question No. 1 is a vote for only new classrooms. Question No. 2 is a vote for add-ons like multipurpose spaces and bathrooms. 

If the referendum does not pass, children would have to attend class outside in trailers.

A similar referendum concerning expansion failed in December 2017.

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