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Florence school board approves special election

The Florence Township Board of Education recently authorized a special election for a school construction referendum date and a district approved architect to submit building action plans to the New Jersey Department  of Education (NJDOE).

According to the school board, the special election will be held on March 12, and the district approved their appointed architect to submit the plans to the NJDOE are for approvals and funding for site work, interior and exterior renovations and building systems throughout the school district.

“The district’s website will be updated with the latest fast facts, architects presentation soon,” Florence Township School District Superintendent, Donna Ambrosius said in an email. “There will be future meetings and community forums to update the Florence Township Community on the needs of the buildings and steps that we are taking.”

At the Dec. 10 board meeting, two representatives from the appointed architect company, Garrison Architects, gave a presentation on their proposed building and renovation plans, estimated costs and community outreach initiatives to inform township residents on the upcoming referendum election.

If the submitted building plans and estimated costs are approved by the NJDOE, Roebling Elementary School, Riverfront Middle School and Florence Township Memorial High School are anticipated to receive multiple upgrades and renovations to their school buildings and surrounding campuses.

With approved, finalized plans and estimated costs by the NJDOE for the renovations and construction, Florence residents will then vote on March 12 to approve the planned projects throughout the school district.

Roebling Elementary School, which serves students in grades Kindergarten through third, is anticipated to receive multiple site work improvements and structures such as parking lot resurfacing, a new digital pylon sign and a new main entrance plaza with a handicap accessible ramp and stairs.

Exterior renovations to elementary school are anticipated to include a rear exit canopy roof replacement along with brick veneer, masonry pointing and waterproofing. Several interior renovations are planned as well to construct a main entrance security vestibule, a handicap lift and a reconfiguration of the school’s main office.

Riverfront Middle School, which serves students in grades four through eight, is anticipated to receive multiple site work improvements such as an expansion of the school’s existing parking lot near the main entrance, a new digital pylon sign and a reconstruction of the media center’s handicap ramp.

The middle school is anticipated to receive multiple interior renovations too, which includes plans to construct a main entrance security vestibule and enhancements throughout the school’s gymnasium and auditorium.

Florence Township Memorial High School is planned to receive considerably fewer work and renovations with anticipated site work projects such as a bus parking lot expansion along with multiple drainage systems throughout the property.

Planned interior renovations to the school include a project to convert and reconfigure part of the library into offices for the Board of Education along with upgrades to the school’s building systems.

Although a few planned new construction projects are planned for the schools, Ambrosius noted that most of the anticipated work is anticipated to prioritize renovations and utilize existing space within the schools as much as possible.

“As you can see, even though it’s upgrades, it’s not fancy. It’s items that have unfortunately been put to the side due to our budget constraints, but we see this as a priority for the structure of the buildings and for the safety of staff and students,” Ambrosius said. “It really has become a priority for us at this point.”

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