Voters in two New Jersey school districts approved construction proposals in special elections held Tuesday, Sept. 29, including one, Sterling Regional, in which one question of a two-part proposal was approved, and one was defeated.
In four other school districts around the state, construction projects were defeated at the polls. And in Longport, which asked voters to raise taxes by $400,000 to fund education of its students, who are sent to neighboring districts on a tuition basis, the proposal lost by one vote.
A total of $111,396,344 in construction appeared on ballots in five counties, along with the $400,000 spending question in Longport. A total of $11,186,566 was approved.
The approved construction projects are eligibile to receive state funding to cover part of the cost. The state gives priority to projects that address health and safety, such as roof and window replacement; some security enhancements; and hazardous material abatement. Under the Educational Facilities and Construction and Financing Act of 2000, the state will fund at least 40 percent of eligible school construction costs through up-front grants, if available, or yearly debt service aid.
A few of the districts put forth multi-part referenda. The Sept. 29 special elections took place in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Monmouth, Passaic and Ocean counties.
The last Tuesday in September is one of five dates on which a school board may propose a bond issue to voters. For the remainder of 2015, construction proposals may be placed on the November General Election ballot (for those districts that elect school board members in November) and in December.
Summary of Proposals
Total amount proposed – $111,796,344 (includes $400,000 spending question in Longport)
Total amount approved: $11,186,566
Total amount eligible for state reimbursement – $29,252,664 (State reimbursement may include up-front school construction grants, or payments of annual debt service aid.)
Total amount eligible for state reimbursement, approved: $5,284,424
Longport – Defeated –
Permanent tax levy adjustment of $400,000, to cover tuition and transportation. Longport is a non-operating district, whose primary expenditures are tuition and transportation paid to a receiving district. While the state in 2008 imposed a yearly two percent cap on tax levy increases, the sending costs, set by the receiving district, are not limited to that cap. While the district has sustained its budget for six consecutive budgets, the fund balance has been exhausted.
Longport students attend Margate schools in grades K-8, and either Atlantic City or Ocean City high schools.
Northern Burlington County Regional
Two-part construction proposal, totaling $65,496,075, for renovations, additions, construction of a building connector at the high school, and a new gymnasium. Part I must be approved, for Part II to be approved.
Proposal I – Defeated: Renovations, improvement and addition, including construction of a new auditorium and media center at Northern Burlington County Regional High School that will connect the “East” and “West” buildings.
Total amount: $53,928,325
State funds: $15,502,632
Proposal II – Defeated: Construction of new gymnasium at the “combined” East and West buildings. Proposal I must be approved for Proposal II to be approved.
Total amount: $11,567,750
Sterling Regional High School District
Two-part proposal, totaling $8,705,935, that would improve security systems, repair and replace roofs, improve HVAC and make other improvements at Sterling Regional High School; as well as upgrade the sports stadium complex and playing fields, add a tennis court and resurface running track. Part I must be approved, for Part II to be approved.
Proposal I – Passed: Various capital improvements, including adding security doors, renovating student bathrooms, installing air conditioning in cafeteria, kitchen and old gymnasium.
Total amount: $6,896,875
State funds: $3,568,548
Proposal II – Defeated: Capital improvement program to stadium complex at Sterling Regional High School, including new tennis court and softball field, renovations to baseball, softball, lacrosse and soccer fields, installation of natural grass field in stadium, and resurfacing of six-lane running track. Proposal I must be approved for Proposal II to be approved.
Total amount: $1,809,060
State funds: $334,677
Manasquan School District – Defeated –
An addition to Manasquan High School, including three new science labs; plus renovations, alterations, improvements at Manasquan High School and Manasquan Elementary School.
Total amount: $24,481,568
State funds: $5,086,803
Eagleswood Township School District
Two-part proposal, totaling $4,393,010, for site improvements, renovations and an addition to Eagleswood Township Elementary School. Proposal I must be approved, for Proposal II to be approved.
Proposal I – Defeated: Various improvements and renovations to Eagleswood Township Elementary School.
Total amount: $2,815,510
State funds: $1,126,204
Proposal II – Defeated: Addition to Eagleswood Township Elementary School, plus additional improvements.
Total amount: $1,577,500
State funds: $305,898
Island Heights School District – Defeated – Various improvements and renovations to Island Heights Elementary School, including HVAC upgrades, new roofing and lighting, door and window upgrades, Americans with Disability Act (ADA) upgrades, new bookshelves.
Total amount: $4,030,065
State funds: $1,612,026
Little Falls School District – Approved –
Renovations, improvements and alterations to Schools No. 1, 2, and 3.
Total amount: $4,289,691
State funds: $1,715,876