Voters in two South Jersey school districts on Tuesday appeared to have narrowly approved proposals for new spending to beef up security, add classrooms, and make building repairs, while a third district rejected two bond proposals.

In unofficial results from the Gloucester County Board of Elections, voters passed bond questions in Deptford and Woodbury Heights, and rejected two proposals in Mantua. Provisional and mail-in ballots were pending. Those were the only districts in the area that asked voters to consider a school bond on Tuesday.

Deptford proposed a $37.6 million bond issue to build an addition to Monongahela Middle School that includes 16 classrooms, two science labs, a music room, and a central district office space with a public meeting room. It also wants to add security vestibules to the main office. Deptford High would get a new HVAC system for the band and choral rooms.

With turnout unusually heavy in a special school election, the measure appeared to have passed by 1,243 to 1,079. The tax impact on a home assessed at the township average of $180,000 is $17.38, according to the county’s website. The state would contribute $8.8 million.

Deptford residents voted in the high school gym Tuesday on a $37.6 million school bond to make improvements to the township's schools.
Melanie Burney
Deptford residents voted in the high school gym Tuesday on a $37.6 million school bond to make improvements to the township's schools.

In Woodbury Heights, voters approved a $2 million bond proposal by 156-148. The measure calls for building an addition that includes a new main office and a security vestibule, converting classrooms for small group instruction, and replacing the gym floor. The bond would add $87.58 annually to the tax bill of a home assessed at the borough average of $177,707. The state would contribute $378,957.

In Mantua, voters rejected two sequential questions to fund improvements at the three district schools. The first, for a $9.6 million bond, called for building new kindergarten classrooms, replacing a gym floor, and upgrading a security vestibule. Voters rejected it, 770-722. The measure would not have impacted taxes, the district said.

By a 806-684 margin, voters rejected a second $1.3 million proposal to build handicapped-accessible bathrooms for pre-K and upgrade playgrounds at two elementary schools. Approval for the first proposal was needed for the second to pass.

The second question would have increased taxes $9.87 annually for a home valued at the township average of $205,881, the district said. The state would have picked up about $2.4 million of the project costs. The district is scheduled to make its final payment on a current bond in March.

Statewide, voters in six districts Tuesday considered school construction totaling $110 million. Some qualify for state funding to cover some of the costs.

Tuesday was one of the five times during the year that school boards may propose a bond issue or special question to pay for school projects. The next date available for a special election is March 10.

Voters in Deptford and five other New Jersey districts on Tuesday were considering spending proposals totaling $110 million for repairs, security and additions in their public schools.
Melanie Burney
Voters in Deptford and five other New Jersey districts on Tuesday were considering spending proposals totaling $110 million for repairs, security and additions in their public schools.