South Jersey voters approve school projects
Construction projects in the Bordentown Regional, Mansfield Township, and Berlin Township School Districts were approved in referendums Tuesday. Two local questions were among four statewide that did not pass. In all, New Jersey voters approved 11 proposals representing more than $215 million in school building and renovation projects.
Construction projects in the Bordentown Regional, Mansfield Township, and Berlin Township School Districts were approved in referendums Tuesday.
Two local questions were among four statewide that did not pass. In all, New Jersey voters approved 11 proposals representing more than $215 million in school building and renovation projects.
Proposals involving solar power proved popular, with six of the seven on ballots statewide earning approval, according to the New Jersey School Board Association.
The one that didn't pass was local. In Burlington County, voters in the Springfield Township School District rejected an $11.1 million proposal to install solar panels, build a gym, and make other renovations at the elementary school. The state would have reimbursed $3.8 million. The annual tax on a home assessed at the $308,000 average would have increased $76.
"Obviously, we're very disappointed" by the 330-255 vote against the plan, said Superintendent Beth Godett, who said the school board would discuss its options.
In Gloucester County, the Delsea Regional School District narrowly missed approval of a $3 million project to replace the roof at the middle school. The vote was 313-309 against, Superintendent Frank Borelli said.
The district had sought a $1.4 million bond issue, which would have been augmented by $1.6 million in state aid. Taxes would have increased about 70 cents, on average, in the first year and about $6 in the second year; in the third year, they would have decreased a little more than $3.
The promise of slightly lower taxes and revenue-producing solar power was enough to eke out a victory in the Bordentown Regional district. The $8.5 million project passed, 640-620, according to Superintendent Constance Bauer.
Plans are to install a solar-energy system at the Burlington County high school and develop a complex for sports and other extracurricular uses. The project is eligible for $2.6 million in state aid.
Of the district's three municipalities, only Bordentown Township voters backed the proposal, according to unofficial results yesterday. The tax there on a home assessed at the $281,311 average will go down 54 cents a year. In Bordentown City, the tax on a home assessed at the $222,994 average will decrease 43 cents. In Fieldsboro, the tax will dip 35 cents on a home assessed at the $180,238 average.
Mansfield Township School District voters approved two ballot questions. The first, with a vote of 514-253, authorized a $639,300 roof replacement at John Hydock Elementary School. That project will be funded by a $383,580 bond issue and $255,720 from the state.
The second question involved the installation of solar panels at the grade school, a $1.2 million project that will receive $491,770 from the state. That vote was 468-299. The net tax increase is projected to be $6.67 annually on a home assessed at $333,368.
"The roof was a health-and-safety issue," Superintendent Diane Bacher said yesterday after a morning of heavy rain. "On a day like this, we are happy we are getting a new roof."
Bacher said the district also looked forward to integrating lessons about the solar panels into the curriculum.
Berlin Township voters in Camden County finally gave their blessing to replacing leaky roofs at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle and John F. Kennedy Elementary Schools. The proposal, which also authorized upgrades to the heating and air-conditioning systems, passed, 176-116.
"I've very pleased," Superintendent Brian Betze said. "This is the third time we've tried this. In these economic times, we weren't too optimistic."
The project is budgeted at just under $6.6 million, to be funded through a $3.3 million bond issue and $3.2 million in state aid. For the typical home assessed at $115,000, the annual tax increase will be $52.