By Mark Rosman
Residents in Upper Freehold Township and Allentown will be asked by the Upper Freehold Regional School District Board of Education to approve seven school facilities projects in a special election that is expected to be held on Sept. 26.
The Spiezle Architectural Group has been authorized by the board to submit plans to the state Department of Education for review and approval of the projects that district administrators want to undertake.
According to the board, those projects are:
• Newell Elementary School roofing replacement, estimated budget, $2,082,600
• Newell Elementary School solar project, estimated budget, $806,000
• Newell Elementary School new generator, estimated budget, $203,125
• Allentown High School roofing replacement, estimated budget, $3,783,000
• Allentown High School solar project, estimated budget, $1,434,680
• Allentown High School auditorium renovations, estimated budget, $1,650,410
• Allentown High School fire alarm replacement, estimated budget, $247,618.
The board will submit a school facilities project not exceeding $9.96 million to voters and will apply to the New Jersey Department of Education for annual state debt service aid on the school bonds to be issued by the board to finance the project, according to a resolution passed by the board on April 19.
The board approved “the preparation and submission … of project educational specifications and schematic plans and drawings, and a state debt service aid application for the project,” authorized an amendment to the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan; and authorized the submission of the project applications and the amended Long Range Facilities Plan to the Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools, the New Jersey Department of Education and the Allentown Planning Board.
In explaining why the project is being proposed, board President Patricia Hogan said, “The roofs on all the buildings at the High Street campus where Allentown High School and Newell Elementary School are located are all at the end of their useful life and/or in serious disrepair.
“With the November election, there could be a change in leadership in the state and with that, a potential change in the availability of funds to assist school districts in these major projects. The funds available are significant – 40 percent of the project costs,” she said.
“In order to take full advantage of the state assistance for these projects, it is important that we get state approvals before the election and potential change in leadership. The district is in the process of forming a referendum committee to create the road map leading to complete support of these desperately needed improvements.
“Our architect has added a solar panel component to the project to further offset the financial impact. As we nail down the details … of exactly what this project will look like, we will make the information public, including what the financial impact will be on our taxpayers.
“It is our intention to set up meetings in Allentown and Upper Freehold throughout the planning process to keep everyone informed. That will be in addition to information released at school board meetings,” Hogan said.