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Colts Neck board asks residents to approve school upgrades

COLTS NECK – Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 24 at residents’ regular polling locations, as the Colts Neck K-8 School District Board of Education seeks voter approval for a referendum that addresses three broad categories: Safety and Security; Health and Compliance; and (being) Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly.

Dr. Kimberly Raymond, the president of the board, said, “This referendum addresses much needed upgrades, replacements and improvements in areas of safety, health, security and compliance.

“Most of our buildings’ main electrical and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems are original and failing and have way surpassed their lifespans. The district has maintained all systems as best as possible within the constraints of a 2% cap on annual budget increases, but the enormity of the costs associated with replacing such major operational systems preclude it from being able to be covered within annual budgets.

“Not only would the cost be prohibitive, but the piecemeal nature of replacement, building by building and system by system as it could be afforded, would be cost inefficient as these systems are intertwined and doing them all at once is quicker and more cost-effective.

“In addition, only through a referendum are our tax dollars maximized by state aid for eligible projects, of which all of those proposed are eligible for aid.

“Our district is an amazing place for Colts Neck children, a place where they are provided with the teachers and programs and resources to excel. The Board of Education believes their environment should reflect that excellence and provide our school community with facilities that nurture our vision and mission and that our community can be proud of for generations to come,” Raymond said.

The proposed referendum totals $25.5 million. District administrators have said the board would allocate $2.6 million from its capital reserve and impact aid reserve to alleviate the impact of the cost of the projects on property taxes.

Administrators have said if the referendum is approved by voters, there would be no tax impact in the first year of the 25-year bond, an estimated $48 tax increase in the second year and a $72 tax increase in the third year for the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $828,700.

Beginning in the fourth year, the increase would be $248 for the average assessed home. Officials said the school district would receive 34% of the eligible project costs in state aid.

The Safety and Security component proposes replacing doors, hardware and locks in schools, and paving and reconfiguring the district’s Conover Road parking lot.

The Health and Compliance component proposes new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, electrical systems and mechanical systems.

The Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly component proposes the replacement of roofing and windows, and the installation of LED lighting.

District administrators provided the following breakdown of the work:

• $11.36 million at the Conover Road Elementary School, consisting of $7.6 million for Health and Compliance; $1.93 million for Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly; and $1.83 million for Safety and Security;

• $10.72 million at the Cedar Drive Middle School, consisting of $7.93 million for Health and Compliance; $1.52 million for Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly; and $1.27 for Safety and Security;

• $2.45 million for the reconfiguration of the Conover Road parking lot (Safety and Security);

• $960,000 for Safety and Security upgrades at the Conover Road Primary School.

Information about the referendum is available on the school district’s website at https://www.coltsneckschools.org/.

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