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Midland Park

2003 School Referendum: What Was Completed? What Did it Cost?

03/11/2013 10:11PM ● By Rebecca K. Abma

Highland School

On March 11, 2003, Midland Park voters approved a $12.3 million referendum for upgrades and repairs to the district's facilities. In the aftermath of the failed December 2012 referendum, resident concerns regarding the 2003 referendum were brought to light: What was included in the referendum proposal, what projects have been completed and what was the final cost? Midland Park Press answers these questions in a two-part series on the 2003 Referendum.

In the first part of the series, 2003 School Referendum: What Was Promised? we learned the $12.3 million plan was to be funded through $3.4 million in state grants, $5.9 million in bonds and $3 million from a "lease-purchase agreement" with North Haledon, which, at the time, intended to send its students to Midland Park.

However, the funds from North Haledon never materialized, because the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that North Haledon's leaving the Manchester Regional High School would alter the ethnic and racial balance of the regional high school. As a result, the $3 million was cut from the project, making the projected total $9.3 million.

According to documents obtained by Midland Park Press, the district spent a total of $8,433,911 on repairs and renovations to its three schools based on the 2003 referendum. Projects were completed in the fall of 2006. Here's a closer look at how the money was spent:

Elementary Schools: $5.5 million

At Highland school the all-purpose room was converted into a library and media center and a new gymnasium and multi-purpose room was erected. Lower-level space was converted to a music room and computer lab, and the balcony that overlooked the all-purpose room was changed into three small group instruction rooms. The cafeteria was expanded into the space formerly used for Board of Education offices. Americans with Disability Act (ADA) upgrades were also completed, however, the boiler was not replaced as originally planned, because the materials cost exceeded the budget as the price of steel increased substantially between when the costs were estimated and the projects went to bid.

Of the $5,494,539 spent at Highland and Godwin Elementary Schools, close to $900,000 were spent on soft costs, including more than $500,000 in architectural fees by Ronald Schmidt and Associates and close to $300,000 paid to Turner Management, who managed the project.

The bulk of the project costs were spent on construction, with $4.5 million going to Nordic Contracting. An additional $30,000 was spent on soil testing, $20,000 was spent on absestos removal, and $15,000 was spent on fire alarm upgrades.

Here's a breakdown of the costs for the major projects at the elementary schools:

Highland School

  • New Gymnasium: $2.5 million
  • Electrical: $482,000
  • Cafeteria: $349,500
  • Plumbing: $130,000
  • Media Center: $110,000
  • Stairwell and Vestibule: $56,500
  • HVAC: $50,000

Godwin School

  • HVAC: $200,000
  • Plumbing: $32,000
  • Electrical: $15,000

A complete line-by-line breakdown of the costs associated with the 2003 Referendum can be found in this downloadable PDF file supplied to Midland Park Press by School Business Administrator Stacy Garvey.

Midland Park Junior-Senior High School: $2.9 million

Renovations at the high school were scaled back after the New Jersey Supreme Court put an end to Midland Park's plan to receive North Haledon students, when it ruled that North Haledon's exit from Manchester Regional High School would have too much of an impact on Manchester's ethnic and racial balance. The population of North Haledon, which shares the regional high school with Haledon and Prospect Park, is 86% white, while Haledon and Prospect Park are both predominately Hispanic—41% and 52%, respectively, according to the latest census figures.

As a result, $3 million in funding from North Haledon never materialized, and the additional classrooms and cafeteria expansion were cut from the project. Upgrades to science labs and large-group instruction space, along with maintenance projects were completed. 

Of the $2,939,372 spent at Midland Park Junior-Senior High School, approximately $465,000 went for soft costs including $325,000 paid to Ronald Schmidt & Associates for architectural fees and $80,000 paid to Turner Management, who managed the project.

The bulk of the project costs were for construction, with $2,168,508 paid to Jeral Construction, including $330,000 for a boiler. An additional $114,750 was paid to Clifton & Clark for roof replacement and a total $113,192 was spent on asbestos abatement, paid out to two companies.

Here's a breakdown of the costs for the major projects at the high school:

  • HVAC: $585,500
  • Science Lab Enhancements: $417,500
  • Electrical: $272,775
  • Partial Roof Replacement: $114,750
  • Plumbing: $96,000
  • Doors & Windows: $22,000

A complete line-by-line breakdown of the costs associated with the 2003 Referendum can be found in this downloadable PDF file supplied to Midland Park Press by School Business Administrator Stacy Garvey.


This is the second of a two-part series investigating the 2003 Referendum. In the first section, Midland Park Press took a look at what was promised in the referendum. Now that all the details have been made available, what are your thoughts on the 2003 school referendum? Tell us in the comments!


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