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Colts Neck voters reject $25.5M referendum for school district upgrades

COLTS NECK – Voters in Colts Neck have defeated a $25.5 million referendum that was proposed by the Colts Neck K-8 School District Board of Education for facilities improvements.

The Sept. 24 referendum sought authorization to undertake alterations, renovations and improvements at the Conover Road Primary School, the Conover Road Elementary School and the Cedar Drive Middle School.

According to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, the referendum question was rejected in a count of 857 “no” votes to 729 “yes” votes. The results are unofficial until they are certified by the county.

In the wake of the referendum’s defeat, Superintendent of Schools MaryJane Garibay said, “We are definitely disappointed in the result of the special election, but not discouraged. In order to provide optimal learning environments for our students, members of the board and administration will identify alternative ways to accomplish the goal of updating our facilities.”

The board sought voter approval for a referendum that addressed three broad categories: Safety and Security; Health and Compliance; and (being) Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly.

District administrators said the Safety and Security component of the construction package proposed replacing doors, hardware and locks in schools, and the paving and reconfiguration of the district’s Conover Road parking lot.

Administrators said the reconfiguration of the parking lot would have included a lane at the back of the complex dedicated for school buses, which would improve traffic flow and improve overall safety at the location.

The Health and Compliance component of the referendum proposed new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, electrical systems and mechanical systems.

The section dedicated to being Energy Efficient and Environmentally Friendly proposed the replacement of roofing and windows, and the installation of LED lighting.

The proposed work included:

• $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.

Administrators said if the referendum had been approved, there would have been no tax impact in the first year of the 25-year bond, followed by an estimated $48 tax impact and a $72 tax impact in years two and three for the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $828,700. After that, the average annual tax impact based on an average assessed home of $828,700 would have been $248.

The school district would have received 34% of the eligible project costs in state aid if the referendum had been approved.

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