Five local school districts will be among the 15 statewide that will seek voters' approval tomorrow for more than $237 million in construction and renovation projects, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Of the local bond referendums, three in Burlington County include installing solar panels, which officials in those districts say will result in energy savings, generate revenue, and provide teachable moments for students.
In two other area districts - in Camden County and in Gloucester County - school officials say they are hoping voters will authorize needed repair projects now, when significant state funding for the work is still available.
In Burlington County's Bordentown Regional School District, voters are being asked to approve an $8,499,975 bond proposal, $2,620,936 of which will be covered by the state. The money will go toward developing an athletic complex at the high school.
It also will include solar panels, which superintendent Constance Bauer said would result in energy savings, increased revenue, and lower taxes.
For the typical Bordentown Township home valued at $281,311, the taxes would decrease 54 cents a year. For the typical $222,994 Bordentown City home, the decrease would be 43 cents. For the typical Fieldsboro home, assessed at $180,238, the dip would be 35 cents.
In Springfield, voters will consider a $11,083,227 proposal to install solar panels at the township elementary school, build a new gym, and do substantial renovations that will lead to a new cafeteria, a media center and computer room, and a new science room. The state, in turn, will reimburse $3,776,565 of the project costs.
For the typical home accessed at $308,000, the annual tax increase would be $76.
In Mansfield Township, voters will decide on two ballot questions. The first is to replace the roof at the John Hydock Elementary School. The bond proposal is $383,580, and the state will kick in $255,720, for a total cost of $639,300. The second question, which requires voter approval of the first question, is installing solar panels. The total bond cost would $1,229,424, with $491,770 to be reimbursed by the state.
"This is very important. The roof is a health and safety issue," said superintendent Diane Bacher.
In tax terms, the net increase is projected at $6.67 per year on the average home assessed at $333,368.
In Camden County's Berlin Township, school officials have offered community tours to show people how badly the leaky roofs at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School and the John F. Kennedy Elementary School need to be replaced.
Superintendent Brian Betze said he was hopeful residents would vote in favor of the $3,334,789 bond proposal, which would bring $3,246,206 in state aid. The total project cost is $6,580,995. If the voters turn it down, Betze said, the state may require the district to do the work and possibly at a time when Trenton is not offering as much aid.
For the typical home assessed at $115,000, the annual tax increase would be $52, he said.
In Gloucester County, the Delsea Regional School District wants to replace the roof at its middle school. The $3 million project includes a $1,368,281 bond proposal and $1,631,719 in state aid.
Business administrator Kathy Mastran said taxes on the average Franklin and Elk homes would increase about 70 cents in the first year, go up about $6 in the second year, and then decrease a little more than $3 in the third year.