Voters in Cherry Hill on Tuesday appeared to reject a hotly debated $210.7 million proposal for new spending on public schools.
It was the largest single school bond referendum in New Jersey in at least a decade. The funds would have been used for new security vestibules, multipurpose rooms, renovated science labs, locker rooms, infrastructure, and asbestos projects.
Cherry Hill voters were asked to approve three sequential spending questions that would raise property taxes by $307 a year for the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $223,500. Approval for the first proposal was needed for the second and third proposals to pass.
The district released preliminary results showing that the first proposal was rejected by a vote of 5,940 to 4,785. The second and third proposals also were voted down.
Officials said absentee ballots that were postmarked Tuesday and received by Thursday would be tallied.
Superintendent Joseph Meloche had said he would ask the school board to bring the proposal back for another vote in March if voters rejected it Tuesday.
With more than 11,200 students, Cherry Hill is the 12th largest district in the state.
A vote also was held in Maple Shade and no definite result was available late Tuesday. The election was too close to call, pending mail-in ballots that will be tallied Thursday, said superintendent Beth Norcia. She declined to release preliminary voting results.
“We’re cautiously optimistic as we wait for all votes to get tallied,” Norcia said.
Voters in Maple Shade were asked to consider two proposals that would allow the district to borrow $47.9 million to update security at two elementary schools, build a classroom addition, and add an auxiliary addition to its high school.
Statewide, voters in nine districts Tuesday considered 15 school construction totaling $464.1 million. Some qualify for state funding to cover some of the costs.
Cherry Hill and Maple Shade were the only districts in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties that asked voters Tuesday to approve a school bond.
School boards may propose a bond issue or special question five times a year. The next date available for a special election is in March.