This story was updated at 2:57 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12 to include comments made by Westfield Board of Education President Rich Mattessich.
The hotly-debated $13.6 million bond referendum to fund district-wide roof repairs and replacement passed Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2,700 to 1,503, with 19 percent of voters casting their ballots.
Work on Westfield High School's roof, which carries the most expensive price tag – an estimated $4 million – and is in the worst shape, with 83 percent requiring removal and replacement, is expected to be completed during the summer of 2013. Work on one other school is also expected to be completed during the same time frame. The remaining buildings will be worked on during the summer of 2014.
In September, residents voted against a $16.9 million bond referendum that would have covered roofs repairs as well as paid for the installation of a lighted turf field at Westfield High School. Following the defeat by a 2:1 margin, Westfield Board of Education members said they "heard" voters and on Oct. 21 unanimously approved a referendum that did not include a turf field but accounted for the full cost to replace and repair the roofs of the 12 district-owned buildings in need.
In a letter to the editor, Westfield Schools Superintendent Margaret Dolan said "current low bond interest rates make this a favorable time to issue bonds" and estimated the tax impact to the average homeowner at $31 in 2014. As existing bonds reach maturation, the total tax impact would decrease dramatically over the life of the new bond, she stated.
Wednesday morning, Dolan issued the following statement: “I am grateful for the public’s approval of this bond referendum for new roofs which will ensure the safety of students and staff and maintain the integrity of our infrastructure. Thank you to the Westfield community for your support.”
Reached by email Wednesday afternoon, Westfield Board of Education President Richard Mattessich said, "I am very happy that the bond referendum has been approved. This will allow the District to undertake much needed roof replacements without impacting class size or programs. I appreciate all of the hard work that members of the Board of Education and the Administration have put into this referendum. And I thank all of those in the community who worked so hard to support the referendum. And while our efforts toward the referendum have been successful, we must also keep in mind that our work on this project is just beginning. We will ensure that all bond funds are utilized efficiently and effectively for their intended purpose. And we will have very meaningful, public discussions about the appropriate level of capital funds that must be saved for future year projects as a part of our ongoing budget dialogue. I look forward to those discussions."
BOE member Mitch Slater voiced his gratitude to voters Tuesday evening.
"This is why I chose to live in Westfield 21 years ago," said Slater. "We have the smartest and (most) caring community that clearly looked at the facts and realized this just made common and fiscal sense . I am so proud of Westfield tonight."
To view election results, click on the attached PDF document. For more information about the bond referendum, visit the district's website.