Voters in Manalapan and Englishtown have rejected a public question the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District Board of Education placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The board asked residents of the two towns that comprise the district to authorize an expenditure of $160,000 to install impact-resistant window safety film at all of the district’s schools.
Safety film is resistant to tears and penetration. The safety film holds glass fragments together if the window is shattered by an outside force.
Voters defeated the question with 7,933 “no” votes to 6,755 “yes” votes, according to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office. The election results are unofficial until they are certified by the county.
In Manalapan, voters rejected the question with 7,558 “no” votes to 6,489 “yes” votes. In Englishtown, voters rejected the question with 375 “no” votes to 266 “yes” votes.
Business Administrator Veronica Wolf previously said approval of the public question would not have resulted in a permanent increase in the school district’s tax levy. She said if the question had been approved, the school year tax levy would have been increased for that amount and the budget would have also been increased so the district would have been able to purchase the safety film.
Superintendent of Schools John J. Marciante said the board “added a second question to the Nov. 6 ballot in response to concerns expressed by members of the community regarding improving the security of our schools.
“While the district was able to fund the addition of security officers within the operating budget, due to the significant cuts in state aid, the installation of safety film to all first floor windows could not be addressed in the operating budget and it was hoped that it would be supported by the community,” he said. “Clearly, the community has indicated they were not willing to support this through a one-time increase in local taxes.
“The state was able to pass its (Nov. 6) bond referendum which included funding for security projects to be made available for school districts. The district’s director of safety and security is investigating whether or not the district can take advantage of that funding to pay for the installation of the safety film,” Marciante said.
On Dec. 11, residents of Manalapan and Englishtown will head back to the polls to vote on a school construction referendum. The board is asking residents to vote on three proposals:
• The first question, totaling $3.5 million, will propose constructing four kindergarten classrooms at Lafayette Mills School.
• The second question, totaling $14.69 million, will propose work on maintenance and safety items throughout the district.
• The third 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.
The total cost of the three questions is $34.56 million. Marciante has previously 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, he said.
“The Dec. 11 referendum is significantly different from the (Nov. 6) ballot question in one major aspect. The district will be eligible for debt service aid if the referendum passes,” Marciante said.
“The state will support close to 40 percent of the cost for the majority of the items in the referendum, unlike the Nov. 6 ballot question which would have been funded 100 percent by the taxpayers of Manalapan and Englishtown.
“Considering the anticipated cuts in state aid, it is hoped that the possibility of state debt service aid that comes with passing the referendum will contribute to community support,” the superintendent said.
In the Nov. 6 election for three seats on the school board, voters re-elected two incumbents and elected one newcomer.
Englishtown voters returned Lori Semel to the board for a new three-year term that will begin in January. Semel ran unopposed and received 397 votes.
Manalapan voters returned Joanne Schechter to the board for a new three-year term and elected James Raffone to his first three-year term. Schechter received 6,576 votes and Raffone received 5,734 votes.
Ryan Urgo was defeated in his bid for a three-year term representing Manalapan. Urgo received 4,472 votes, according to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office. The election results are unofficial until they are certified by the county.
The nine-member school board consists of eight residents of Manalapan and one resident of Englishtown.