Manchester Regional budget includes funding for upgrades to music wing

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HALEDON — Millions of dollars in federal and state aid will pay for replacement of air conditioning units that have been in use at Manchester Regional High School since it opened several decades ago.

Work on the Eisenhower-era building will not start until the summer of 2023 due to a breakdown in the supply chain, but school Superintendent Gary Lubisco Jr. said the project will eventually benefit all staff and students.

“It will really be a shot in the arm to get it done at such a low tax impact,” Lubisco said. “Every single classroom will be comfortable, regardless of the time of year.”

Funding for the work will be covered by a $29.4 million spending plan that the Board of Education approved for next school year.

The high school serves 748 students from Haledon, North Haledon and Prospect Park.

The new cooling and ventilation units will circulate filtered air in the auditorium, the cafeteria and classrooms on both floors of the building on Church Street. School officials will also apply the federal aid toward electrical upgrades and replacement of windows.

The total estimated cost for those projects is $7.6 million.

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The source of the grants is the Schools and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program, which is offered by the state Board of Public Utilities, as well as two rounds of emergency relief funding from the federal government.

The budget also includes $1.8 million in capital funding from the high school’s reserve.

Almost half of that money, or $909,416, will be spent to finance renovations planned for the auditorium, band classroom and choir classroom. The high school will fund the rest of the $5 million project by drawing from its reserve for the next four years.

A second capital project, or $704,730, will be the installation of an elevator; work is expected to happen over the summer.

Lubisco said the budget also builds in two new full-time positions: an athletic trainer and a secretary, whose salary will be split with the Haledon K-8 school board.

The budget is supported by a 2% hike in the tax levy — the first time in three years that there has been an increase.

The average Haledon taxpayer, with property assessed at $231,000, will see an annual bill increase of $84.63, and the average North Haledon taxpayer, with property assessed at $380,616, will see an increase of $12.06.

Meanwhile, Prospect Park taxpayers will get a reprieve; the average homeowner there will have a decrease of $9.72.

Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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