Voters are asked to agree to fix roof

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:19

    State would fund a portion if referendum goes through By Jennifer Knocha Hardyston — Leaks, drips and drops — right now the Hardyston Township Middle School has all of them, and the board and administration are hoping that this time, the voters will agree to make it all go away. The roof referendum will appear as a second question when voters go to the polls for the budget on April 21. The $1.7 million referendum, which was rejected by 88 votes in December, comes with an additional bonus this time: if it’s approved, the school will qualify for aid that will pay 40 percent of the total cost of the roof project. “That 40 percent isn’t going to be there if the referendum doesn’t pass,” said Anthony Norod, acting CSA/Superintendent. “If it doesn’t pass, the state will pull back.” The loss of that approximately $700,000 could be crucial, because it’s likely a one-time only offer, according to Norod. Getting even that much aid was an effort, requiring Norod and former board secretary/business administrator Linda Alvarez to travel to Trenton to meet with representatives of the Department of Education personally to emphasize the health and safety concerns caused by the roof. Time is the other factor for the roof replacement. According to board secretary/business administrator James Sekelsky, the roof replacement will take approximately 49 days, and would have to start just after school lets out for the summer to be completed by fall. “It’s just about imperative that we pass this now so that we can do the roof replacement over the summer,” said board president Jerry Lanzalotto. The replacement would end years of extra wear and tear on both the staff and the building. Puddles have caused two falls and at least one staff member was injured enough to require surgery. The ceiling in the board office is riddled with stained ceiling tiles and the smoke detector has been replaced twice due to water damage. Offices throughout the administrative wing have leaks — leaving staff to cover their computers and valuable papers with plastic each night before they leave so that they don’t get damaged. Enough is enough, said resident Robert Walker, calling the situation “an abomination. Right now we’ve got a problem to solve and we have to go after it for the safety of our children and the investment of our community.”