Residents in Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury Borough will go the polls during a special election on Dec. 11 and be asked to approve a multimillion school construction referendum.
The Red Bank Regional High School District Board of Education has authorized a referendum proposing the expansion of and renovations to Red Bank Regional High School, which is located in Little Silver.
Business Administrator Christina Galvao said the board recently passed a resolution placing the question on the Dec. 11 ballot.
Red Bank Regional High School public information officer Marianne Kligman said the project may total $20 million, although the receipt of debt service aid from the state could reduce the cost to about $15.7 million. She said the referendum would pay for the addition of 10 classrooms, the replacement of the roof and upgrades to outdoor facilities at the high school.
According to the high school’s website, Red Bank Regional accepts in-district students from Little Silver, Red Bank and Shrewsbury Borough, and tuition students from out-of-district into its five four-year career and technical education programs.
Kligman said the board’s goal is to continue to provide facilities which will encourage enrollment into those academies.
The academies are the Visual and Performing Arts Academy, the Academy of Information Technology, the Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Finance and the Early Childhood Education Academy.
“The renovations are necessary to meet our demographic needs and also to keep these amazing programs we have,” Kligman said.
Kligman said district administrators are hoping to have all the financial information, including the impact of the referendum on school property taxes, calculated by August.
Kligman said residents in the three sending municipalities – Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury Borough – will vote in the Dec. 11 election. Whether students who reside outside those towns who plan to apply for admission to a Red Bank Regional academy can be accommodated may rely on the decision regarding the school’s expansion, she said.
Superintendent of Schools Louis Moore said the high school’s enrollment for 2017-18 is about 1,200 students. He said the school exceeds an 85 percent utilization rate. Moore said the school should be operating at an 80 percent utilization rate. He said the higher rate is a ratio that can no longer support a growth in enrollment.
Kilgman said the school’s capacity is 1,043 students.
Moore said he expects the high school’s enrollment to exceed 1,350 students in the next few years. He said if the referendum does not pass, “there will be fewer spaces for qualified students” who would be able to be accommodated from outside Red Bank, Little Silver and Shrewsbury Boroguh.
During the current school year, students who are paying tuition to attend an academy at Red Bank Regional came from 15 municipalities, Moore said.
Moore said the roof needs to be replaced and he said that work may amount to $6 million of the total referendum.
“It doesn’t make sense to keep repairing a roof that is at the end of its life expectancy,” he said.
District administrators have said the cost to replace the roof of the high school cannot be covered in the district’s capital budget and must be funded through a referendum.
The high school’s athletic fields and facilities also need to be updated, the superintendent said.