Voters in four New Jersey school districts went to the polls on Jan. 24, approving nearly $85 million in school construction proposals, including classroom additions, security upgrades, athletic field improvements and more.
In addition to the construction referenda, a fifth school district, Ridgefield in Bergen County, was seeking voter approval to raise additional funds to bring district educational spending to state adequacy levels by increasing instructional staffing and other expenditures. That question was rejected.
Each of the four construction proposals would result in state funding to cover part of the cost. Under the Educational Facilities and Construction and Financing Act of 2000, the state provides funds to cover at least 40 percent of state-determined eligible school construction costs.
The fourth Tuesday in January 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 will be in March.
Following is a summary of construction projects and ballot questions:
Total amount proposed,and approved – $84,994,281
Total amount eligible for state reimbursement approved (through the payment of annual debt service aid) – $31,439,630
Weehawken — APPROVED
Improvements and upgrades to two elementary schools, plus Weehawken High School, to include security system, heating system, lighting system upgrades; interior renovations; and improvements/upgrades to science laboratories at Weehawken High School.
Total amount: $16,000,000
State funds: $6,150,000
East Amwell Township — APPROVED
Facilities replacement and renovation, including construction of new classrooms to replace trailers, and refurbishment of school bathrooms. In addition to bonds, the project would be funded by $500,000 from the district’s capital reserve, for a total cost of $3,815,000.
Total amount of bonds: $3,315,000
State funds: $508,720
Manasquan — APPROVED
Renovations, alterations and improvements to Manasquan High School and Elementary School, and additions at Manasquan High School.
Total amount: $12,033,754
State funds: $3,767,700
Pinelands Regional School District — ALL APPROVED
Three-part bond issue referendum for renovations, alterations and improvements to Pinelands Regional Junior High School and Pinelands Regional High School.
Proposal 1 – Various renovations, alterations and improvements to junior high school and high school.
Total amount: $46,826,329
State funds: $18,730,531
Proposal 2 (contingent upon approval of Proposal 1) – Additional renovations, alterations and improvements to junior high school and high school. Takes effect only if Proposal 1 is approved.
Total amount: $4,875,448
State funds: $1,907,679
Proposal 3 (contingent upon approval of Proposal 1) – Improvements and alterations to athletic complex at Pinelands Regional High School. Takes effect only if Proposal 1 is approved.
Total amount: $1,943,750
State funds: $375,000
TAX LEVY QUESTION
Ridgefield — REJECTED
Ridgefield was seeking voter approval to raise an additional $1,140,000 for general funds. The funding would restore the budget that is below adequacy funding, by adding one high school science teacher, one high school math teacher, one high school social studies teacher, one world language teacher, one ELL teacher, one career technical education teacher, two school counselors, two library media specialists, additional curriculum resources, one additional maintenance worker, facilities maintenance expenses, and related employee benefits.