Voters in a dozen New Jersey school districts went to the polls on Tuesday, Dec. 9, to act on $274 million in school construction proposals, including roof replacements, security improvements and a new elementary school.
Nine of the 12 proposals, totaling $230,871,903 in construction, were approved. Among those approved was the proposal for construction of a new elementary school in the Franklin Township school district, Somerset County.
In addition to the construction proposals, the Lower Cape May Regional high school district considered a question that would allow one of its constituent municipalities, Cape May City, to withdraw from the district. That proposal was defeated.
Construction proposals appeared on ballots in six counties: Bergen, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Monmouth and Somerset. Most of the approved projects are slated to receive state funding to cover part of the cost, some taking advantage of state school construction grants announced last year. The state gives priority to projects that address health and safety, such as roof and window replacement; compliance with construction code and the Americans with Disabilities Act; and some security enhancements.
Under the Educational Facilities and Construction and Financing Act of 2000, the state provides funds, through grants or debt service aid, to cover at least 40 percent of eligible school construction costs.
Cape May Question The sole non-construction question, in Lower Cape May Regional, asked the three municipalities in that regional district whether the City of Cape May should be permitted to withdraw from the district. If the question was approved, Cape May City’s middle and high school students would have continued attending school in the regional district, but on a per-student tuition basis under a “sending-receiving” contract. The Cape May City Board of Education operates its own elementary school, which is not affected by the question.
While the proposal was approved by Cape May City voters, it was defeated in Lower Township and West Cape May. Approval by a majority of Cape May City voters, as well as a majority of the total voters in all three towns, was required for passage.
The second Tuesday in December is one of five dates on which a school board may propose a bond issue or special question to voters. The next date available for special elections would be in January 2015.
Following is a summary of voting results statewide:
Total amount proposed – $274,946,203
Total amount proposed eligible for state reimbursement – $85,530,767 (State reimbursement may include up-front construction grants, or payments of annual debt service aid.)
Total amount of construction approved — $230,871,903
Total eligible for state reimbursement, approved — $68,714,388
FAIR LAWN — APPROVED
Roof replacement at six schools, plus an educational space addition and renovations at Westmoreland Elementary School.
Total amount: $12,871,000
State funds: $2,892,090
FORT LEE — APPROVED
Elementary and middle school additions, improvement to high school athletic facilities, including new track, and replacement of grass field with artificial turf.
Total amount: $49,840,000
State funds: $8,200,424
HO-HO-KUS — DEFEATED
Facilities improvement including replacing grass field with artificial turf, and replacing cinder running track with a synthetic track.
Total amount: $2,172,000
State funds: $706,644
SADDLE BROOK — APPROVED
Improvements to five schools, including security cameras and other security enhancements.
Total amount: $4,936,625
State funds: $1,974,650
MAGNOLIA — APPROVED
Improvements to Magnolia Elementary School, including roof replacement, new windows, new A/C, new bookcases.
Total amount: $6,561,307
State funds: $3,934,097
CLAYTON — APPROVED
Additions, renovations and improvements to high school and an elementary school.
Total amount: $9,730,735
State funds: $2,160,012
CALDWELL/WEST CALDWELL — APPROVED
New district data technology center, other technology upgrades, plus security enhancements to high school and every elementary school.
Total amount: $18,205,394
State funds: $4,793,350
CEDAR GROVE — APPROVED
Improvements to high school and two elementary schools, plus athletic facilities upgrades including new artificial turf field, track, replacement bleachers and new field house.
Total amount: $14,884,719
State funds: $3,610,182
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — DEFEATED
Improvements and additions to Park Avenue Elementary/Middle School and the Freehold Learning Center.
Total amount: $32,902,400
State funds: $12,509,775
OCEAN TOWNSHIP — APPROVED
Additions and renovations to high school and four other schools.
Total amount: $28,944,797
State funds: $7,680,226
WEST LONG BRANCH — DEFEATED
Renovations and upgrades of two schools, including HVAC replacement, science lab renovations, electrical and lighting upgrades.
Total amount: $8,999,900
State funds: $3,599,960
FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — APPROVED
Construction of new Claremont School, and renovations and improvements to eight other schools.
Total amount: $84,897,326
State funds: $33,469,357