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Fair Haven school board will ask voters to approve $15.6M referendum

FAIR HAVEN – The Fair Haven Public Schools Board of Education will ask voters to approve a multi-million dollar question on Sept. 24.

The board has authorized a $15.6 million referendum that proposes the expansion of and renovations to the district’s two schools.

The referendum will be on the ballot in a special election on Sept. 24. Voting will take place from 2-8 p.m. at the Knollwood Public School, 224 Hance Road, Fair Haven.

The two schools in the district are the Viola L. Sickles School, which educates pupils in pre-kindergarten through third grade, and the Knollwood Public School, which educates students in fourth grade through eighth grade.

Proposed enhancements to the Sickles school total $12.05 million. The improvements are as follows:

• Expand from half-day to full-day kindergarten; create a secure school entrance; increase parking on Willow Street to ensure safety during student drop-off and pick-up; gain six classrooms; and create an additional multi-purpose space.

Superintendent of Schools Sean McNeil previously described the current school entrance as unacceptable from a security standpoint. He also reported that Fair Haven is one of three remaining school districts in Monmouth County that does not offer full-day kindergarten.

Proposed enhancements to the Knollwood school total $3.6 million. The improvements are as follows:

• Add flexible classroom space; update the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the gymnasium; update critical systems such as electrical panels and high efficiency boilers.

State aid is anticipated to cover $3.77 million of the $15.6 million spending plan, McNeil said.

District administrators have said the owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $808,044 would pay about $429 more in school taxes each year for 20 years if the referendum is approved by voters next week.

According to a statement posted on the school district’s website, “Fair Haven voters can put the finishing touches on a plan to be sure the community’s high value on education is reflected in its schools. Voter approval would enable the expansion to full-day kindergarten, an expectation most Monmouth County schools already meet.

“It would provide the space needed to further support 21st century learning with a strong emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) at both schools, and a dedicated World Language classroom where one does not exist at Sickles. It would also significantly improve security and building systems at both schools,” according to the statement.

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