Manalapan-Englishtown voters will decide three referendum questions

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The Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District Board of Education has set Dec. 11 as the date for a referendum that will ask voters in the towns that comprise the district to vote on three proposals.

“We are not combining projects that do not go together,” Superintendent of Schools John J. Marciante Jr. said in explaining why voters will be asked to weigh in on three proposals. “Our PTAs are putting together a ‘Get Out the Vote’ campaign and we will have information about the referendum on our website.”

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The first referendum question, totaling $3.5 million, will propose constructing four kindergarten classrooms at Lafayette Mills School. Building those classrooms at Lafayette Mills will allow administrators to meet their goal of having between 18 and 19 pupils in each kindergarten class in the district, according to the superintendent.

If the first question is approved by voters, the increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the township average in Manalapan would be $16 per year and the increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the borough average in Englishtown would be $12 per year, Marciante said.

The second referendum question, totaling $14.69 million, will propose work on maintenance and safety items throughout the district, including upgrades to aging fire alarm systems, window replacement and the provision of a generator at each building, according to the superintendent.

If the second question is approved by voters, the increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the township average in Manalapan would be $45 per year and the increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the borough average in Englishtown would be $35 per year, Marciante said.

The third referendum question, totaling $16.37 million, will propose the completion of infrastructure work that would result in all of the district’s schools being fully air conditioned, according to the superintendent.

If the third question is approved by voters, the increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the township average in Manalapan would be $50 per year and the increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the borough average in Englishtown would be $38 per year, Marciante said.

The total cost of the three referendum questions is $34.56 million. Marciante said the state would pay a maximum of 40 percent of the eligible costs of the projects.

If all three proposals are approved by voters, the total increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the township average in Manalapan would be $111 per year and the total increase in school taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the borough average in Englishtown would be $85 per year, Marciante said.

The Manalapan-Englishtown district educates children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and has an enrollment of 5,100 students.

Marciante has said kindergarten enrollment has been increasing since the district
moved from a half-day program to a full-day program several years ago.

Regarding air conditioning, the Lafayette Mills, Clark Mills, Milford Brook, Taylor
Mills and Pine Brook schools are not fully air conditioned.

“It is the inequity of instruction, that is where the board is coming from,” Marciante said in a previous interview. “The schools are the only place, other than when children are outside, where they are in a non-air conditioned environment.”

He said there is a difference between children who are trying to learn in a comfortable environment and children who are trying to learn in a building that is not air conditioned. He said the issue for the school board is one of equity.

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