On November 8th Rocky Hill Taxpayers will be asked to vote on two referendum questions. The first pertains to building a new Intermediate (Grade 4-5) School. The second pertains to purchasing energy efficient street lights and poles. The Education Committee will limit this Report to the first question.
The Rocky Hill Board of Education has proposed building a new Grade 4-5 Intermediate School to eliminate severe overcrowding problems at both West Hill Elementary School and Stevens Elementary School. The Board has found that while other towns are seeing a decrease in enrollment, Rocky Hill has witnessed an increase of 187 students in the past two years – 119 last year, of which 113 were Pre K – 5th grade. K-5 enrollment is projected to grow by another 253 students in the next three years (NESDEC, 2015 projections).
The impact of rising enrollment on the school district can be seen by the fourteen temporary classrooms added to accommodate students. This means that approximately 300 children are now displaced and learning in portable structures. Last year, West Hill Elementary School served more students than our high school. Rocky Hill currently has about 1,400 -1,500 residents age 6 years or younger, therefore, the Board does not expect a drop in enrollment in the foreseeable future.
The cost of the new school project is about $48 million with an expected State Reimbursement Rate of 36.4% or approximately $17 million. Therefore, the cost to Rocky Hill would be about $31 million. According to the Finance Department, the anticipated impact on the mill rate would be an increase of 1.23 mills. How that translates: For a house assessed at $100,000 the tax increase would be $123.00/year or $10.25/month. The rate will gradually decline as overtime the principal gets paid down so the interest will become lower.
The Chamber will host an informal Q&A session with Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mark Zito, on Monday October 24th. Please join us for coffee and conversation on this important topic.