On Tuesday, March 10, voters in four school districts acted on spending proposals totaling nearly $281.6 million.
Projects in Woodbridge, Middlesex County and Belmar, Monmouth County were approved for a total of $97.4 million, with the state providing $17.4 million of the total amount. In Woodbridge, voters approved construction of a new Avenel Elementary school to replace the Avenel Street School. In Belmar, voters approved plans to repair and upgrade facilities at the Belmar Elementary School.
In Edison, Middlesex County, voters rejected a proposal to spend nearly $183.2 million to ease overcrowding and improve safety. In South Harrison, Gloucester County, voters rejected a proposal to spend $1 million to replace the gym flooring at South Harrison Elementary School.
March 10 is one of five dates during the year when school boards may ask voters to approve school construction. Under the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act, the state will fund at least 40% of eligible school construction costs through annual debt service aid. Proposed construction projects in all four school districts are at least partially eligible for state funds.
Here are the statewide figures gathered by the New Jersey School Boards Association from school districts and the offices of the county clerks:
Statewide amount proposed – $281,589,328
State funding proposed – $48,853,319
Statewide amount approved — $97,396,328
State funding approved — $17,369,539
A synopsis of the proposed spending plans follows:
South Harrison (Gloucester County) REJECTED
The district sought to replace the gym floor in the South Harrison Elementary School. School officials say the floor contains mercury that, under certain conditions, can emit vapor that could be harmful to children.
Total amount: $1,000,000
State funds: $400,000
Edison (Middlesex County) REJECTED
To satisfy educational program needs, address overcrowding, ensure a safe and secure learning environment, provide for facilities infrastructure needs and eliminate education in trailers, the district asked to expand, renovate and upgrade Lincoln Elementary School, John Marshall Elementary School, James Madison Intermediate School, John Adams Middle School, Edison High School and John P. Stevens High School. At the Edison and Stevens high schools, the proposed project had included new classrooms and state-of-the-art science laboratories. If the proposal had been approved, other classrooms and facilities will be built to serve the needs of students at the elementary and middle school levels.
Total amount: $183,193,000
State funds: $31,083,780
Woodbridge (Middlesex County) APPROVED
The district will build and equip a new Avenel Elementary school to replace Avenel Street School, adding and upgrading classrooms, athletic facilities, making site improvements, and upgrading safety and security. Work will be performed at all of the district’s schools.
Total amount: $87,718,000
State funds: $13,498,208
Belmar (Monmouth County) APPROVED
Voters approved plans to repair and upgrade facilities at the Belmar Elementary School. Repairs will include new seats, floors, lights and sound equipment for the auditorium; $6.6 million in HVAC improvements, including new ventilators, a control system, and upgrades to the electrical system. Repairs also include the removal of asbestos and the replacement of windows to improve energy efficiency.
Total amount: $9,678,328
State funds: $3,871,331