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Red Bank school board to ask voters to approve $6.75M referendum for school upgrades

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RED BANK – The Red Bank Borough Public Schools Board of Education will pose a multimillion dollar question on the Nov. 5 ballot when residents are asked to approve repairs and improvements at two schools.

The board has authorized a $6.75 million referendum to be placed on the Election Day ballot.

The Red Bank Primary School, which educates students in pre-kindergarten through third grade, and Red Bank Middle School, which educates students in grades four through eight, would have repairs and upgrades completed if voters approve the referendum.

According to the school district’s website, the proposed enhancements and repairs would keep Red Bank schools safe, functional and efficient. The referendum proposes the following:

• Remove existing roofing at the primary school and replace with new gutters, downspouts, fascia boards, vented soffits, siding and cupolas;

• Replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system at the primary school with a reliable energy efficient system that would reduce monthly utility bills and prevent expensive repairs;

• Replace windows at the middle school with thermal energy efficient windows, replace all deteriorated steel lintels and repair any damaged concrete or slate sills;

• Repair exterior walls of the primary school to limit the potential for water infiltration and reduce future structural problems.

According to the district’s website, the referendum has been approved for up to 40% state funding of eligible costs and will not have an impact on a property owner’s school taxes.

If voters defeat the referendum on Nov. 5, administrators will attempt to find alternative solutions to repair and replace major systems.

In an interview on Aug. 22, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jared Rumage said a zero percent tax increase is the result of expiring debt in 2021.

He said “we are taking on that same debt” after that year.

Rumage, who said the project’s architect originally pitched a $20 million plan to renovate the two schools, said he chose the most important repairs and improvements that need to be made. The cost came down to $6.75 million.

Rumage said he was not comfortable increasing taxes and did not want to burden Red Bank residents with a tax increase to help pay for the cost of the referendum.

A referendum presentation will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 at the Red Bank Public Library, which is located at 84 W. Front St., Red Bank.

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