The Toms River Regional School District Board of Education held the third and final town hall meeting in advance of a vote on a $147 million construction referendum.
On Jan. 22, residents of the four towns that comprise the district – Toms River, Beachwood, Pine Beach and South Toms River – will go to the polls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to have their say on a plan for improvements and upgrades that has been put forth by the board.
On Jan. 8, district administrators informed and fielded questions from residents during a meeting at Toms River High School South.
Board President Joe Nardini said, “It is not fair for our children and teachers to have mold on the walls. We have to do this referendum. This is something that has to be done, one way or the other. It is our obligation to do this for our children and our teachers.”
Board Vice President Russell Corby said, “I think it is important to speak as a generation. You have seen tonight the age of some of these buildings. We are not talking about new buildings. We are talking about taking care of what was given to us by another generation. Yes, I am sure they had to step up to the plate and pay the taxes to build these buildings, but it got done.”
Krista Whitaker of Beachwood is a mother of three who said she will vote “yes” on the referendum.
“I am a firm yes on this referendum. If you were to ask me a year ago it would have been a no. I am voting yes because of education aspects, the buildings need it, our children deserve it and our teachers need it. I have been advocating for others to vote yes as well,” Whitaker said.
Dennis Galante of Toms River said he will vote “no,” stating, “I see miscellaneous items listed here. I won’t vote for this. Why was this brought up now if there were issues with these buildings before?”
Phil Martin is a teacher at Toms River South and said he will vote “yes,” stating, “I love this town. I love teaching in this town. Just maintaining the buildings is a big task. How can we do the great things we can without fixing our buildings? So I am a yes.”
Residents will vote “yes” or “no” on the following proposal: “The Board of Education of the Toms River Regional School District … is authorized: (a) to undertake various renovations, alterations, and improvements at Beachwood Elementary School, Cedar Grove Elementary School, Joseph A. Citta Elementary School, East Dover Elementary School, Hooper Avenue Elementary School, North Dover Elementary School, Pine Beach Elementary School, Silver Bay Elementary School, South Toms River Elementary School, Walnut Street Elementary School, Washington Street Elementary School, West Dover Elementary School, Intermediate East School, Intermediate North School, Intermediate South School, High School East, High School North, High School South, Administration Building, John Bennett Athletic Center, Vehicle Maintenance Compound, District Maintenance Compound and Central Registration Complex and including related technology, fixtures, furnishings, equipment, site work and related work; (b) to appropriate $147,148,269 for such purposes; and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount of $147,148,269.”
District administrators said the state will cover $47 million of the eligible project costs.
If the referendum is approved by voters, the owner of the average assessed home in Toms River will pay $144 more in school taxes annually ($12 per month increase) for 20 years, the length of time to pay back the bonds, according to district administrators.
If the referendum is approved by voters, the owner of the average assessed home in Pine Beach will pay $132 more in school taxes annually ($11 per month increase) for 20 years, according to district administrators.
If the referendum is approved by voters, the owner of the average assessed home in Beachwood will pay $96 more in school taxes annually ($8 per month increase) for 20 years, according to district administrators.
If the referendum is approved by voters, the owner of the average assessed home in South Toms River will pay $72 more in school taxes annually ($6 per month increase) for 20 years, according to district administrators.
Toms River residents will vote at the First Baptist Church, Toms River Municipal Building, Toms River Elks Club, Silver Bay Elementary School, Pleasant Plains First Aid Building, Toms River Senior Center, Dover Brick First Aid, Walnut Street Elementary School, East Dover Firehouse, Winding River Ice Rink, West Dover Elementary.
Also, Holiday City at Silverton, Toms River Recreation Center, Cedar Grove Elementary, Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority, Green Island Community Association, RWJBarnabas Health Arena, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Intermediate North, Garden of Pleasant Plains Clubhouse, Saint Elizabeths Chapel, Silverton Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.
And, Saratoga Clubhouse, Toms River High School East, Washington Street Elementary School, First United Methodist Church, Winteringham Village Community, Hooper Avenue Elementary, Greenbriar Woodlands Clubhouse, Homestead Run Mobile Home Park, Lake Ride Clubhouse, Ocean County Vo-Technical School, Joseph A. Citta Elementary School, Toms River Youth Center, and Riverwood Park Recreation Center.
Beachwood residents will vote at the Mayo Park Center, Beachwood Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1 and the Beachwood Municipal Complex. Pine Beach residents will vote at Pine Beach Municipal Building. South Toms River residents will vote at South Toms River Borough Hall.