By JENNIFER AMATO
NORTH BRUNSWICK — The township school district will put forth a $68 million referendum in December, asking residents to fund the construction of a new seventh/eighth-grade middle school and to renovate the existing middle school.
The new school will be built near the Renaissance development on Route 130 south. Renovations will be performed at Linwood Middle School to include fifth and sixth grades — the Early Childhood Center and the Board of Education offices will also be included at Linwood.
The tax impact would be approximately $19 per month, or $228 per year, on the average assessed home of $157,080, if the referendum were to pass.
According to information provided by Superintendent of Schools Brian Zychowski, the “current spaces are not enough.” Facilities are over capacity, the leased building at Our Lady of Lourdes school in Milltown for the Early Childhood Center is at capacity and the township itself is expanding.
Enrollment throughout the district has increased from 4,523 students in 1995 to 6,302 students as of 2015. The New Jersey Department of Education expects a 9 percent growth rate, or about 120 to 150 additional students each year, over the next five years, Zychowski said.
Officials state that new schools will relieve safety concerns, increase community spaces and reduce the need for outsourced facilities. If the referendum were to pass, homeowners should expect increased real estate value, increased community attraction and $8.9 million available in state aid funding, according to the superintendent.
The new referendum is a revised plan from the one in 2015, calling for the construction of two new schools, which failed. Last year’s referendum was $88 million, but with state aid it was $79 million for taxpayers, Zychowski said. The tax impact at the time would have been $24 per month, or $288 per year, on the average assessed home.
The machine count was 1,137 “yes” votes to 1,537 “no” votes, with an additional 43 “yes” and 45 “no” votes by mail, for a total of 1,180 affirmative to 1,582 negative votes for the new schools, according to information provided by the Middlesex County Clerk’s Office.
The $79 million referendum for 2016 reduces the project by $10 million, while increasing state aid by $1.2 million, Zychowski said, so the net to the taxpayers is $68 million.
Polls will be open from 2-9 p.m. Dec. 13. Zychowski said the question will not be on the November ballot so it does not get lost among the presidential and local election races.
Contact Jennifer Amato@gmnews.com.