Voters in 13 school districts across New Jersey voted on school construction proposals during 2020, taking action on projects including school additions, security enhancements, heating and ventilation work and more.
A total $213,777,315 was approved in nine districts, with the last special election of the year taking place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Results show that 69% of the districts that held referenda throughout 2020 saw projects approved.
All of the projects approved include state funding; a total of $45,199,844 in state dollars will go to proposals approved this year. State funding, provided through the Educational Facilities and Construction and Financing Act of 2000, provides at least 40% of eligible school construction costs through grants or debt service aid.
Fewer Proposals than 2019 In comparison, last year, 39 districts put forth construction proposals and 26 won voter support, for an approval rate of 66%. The total amount of spending approved in 2019 — $584.9 million — was about $371.1 million higher than this year’s total. Due to the pandemic, Gov. Murphy canceled special school elections scheduled to take place on Sept. 29 and Dec. 8, giving voters fewer opportunities to approve spending.
Local Priorities on the Ballot School districts sought approval of bond issues to meet a wide variety of local priorities in 2020. Voters in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, for example, approved $87.7 million to build and equip a new Avenel Elementary School to replace Avenel Street School. East Rutherford in Bergen County, and Deptford in Gloucester County added classrooms. Other districts won approval for proposed renovations or improvements to health and safety conditions with projects such as the installation of new HVAC systems.
Only Mantua in Gloucester County sought approval for a multi-part construction proposal. Both questions were narrowly defeated. In 2019, seven districts placed multi-part construction questions on the ballot, with a base question, followed by supplemental question(s). In 2019, three of the multi-part questions were approved, while four were defeated.
Detailed descriptions of construction proposals are available on the NJSBA data webpage here.