BURLINGTON TWP. Burlington Township is the only South Jersey district asking voters to approve a school construction bond referendum Tuesday. A $10 million proposal for renovations and improvements at all five schools in the school system will appear on the ballot.
School officials have spent months trying to make a case to persuade voters to support the bond. A final community session will be at 6 p.m. Monday at the Hopkins Building.
"We want people to go to the polls well-informed," said interim Superintendent Mary Ann Bell. "The Burlington Township community has always been supportive of our students and our schools."
The funds would be used for projects that officials say are long overdue, in some cases to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act or make safety improvements.
At the B. Bernice Young School, new floors and bleachers would be installed in the 21-year-old gym. Classrooms would be renovated, and parking areas and driveways repaired.
A new irrigation system would be installed at the middle school, while a deteriorating canopy at the Fountain Woods School would be repaired.
The floor and bleachers at the Hopkins Building would be replaced. If the repairs are not made, the district may no longer be eligible to host state athletic association events, officials say.
Repairs would also be made at the 50-year-old high school, including new flooring, seating, and sound and light systems in the Performing Arts Center. Flooring and bleachers in the gym also would be replaced.
The district said repairs also were needed on the high school's football field and track. The current conditions pose a potential safety threat for athletes, and the district may be deemed ineligible to host official track events, officials said.
"They are serious conditions," Bell said last week. "We are hoping that we pass the referendum and we can do everything."
If it is approved, the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $228,866 would pay about $5 more a year in taxes for the first three years. Officials say the immediate tax impact would be minimal and would decline in subsequent years due to expiring debt on previous bonds.
The state would contribute $4.5 million to the projects.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 4 to 9 p.m.
Elsewhere in the state, voters in North Brunswick in Middlesex County will consider a $87 million bond referendum to build an elementary school, early childhood center, and board offices.
In Passaic County, voters in West Milford will decide on a $7.9 million proposal to replace the roofs at West Milford High and Macopin Middle Schools.
School boards may propose a bond issue or special question to voters five times a year. The next date available for special elections is in January. - Melanie Burney