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Freehold Regional board asks voters to approve school improvements

On Election Day, Nov. 5, voters in the eight municipalities that comprise the Freehold Regional High School District will be asked by the Board of Education to approve a $41.7 million referendum.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Three questions, which residents will vote on separately, make up the referendum that district administrators are calling FRHSD: Ensuring Excellence.

Question No. 1 ($20 million) proposes security initiatives such as interior door locks, security vestibules and public address systems; roofing and paving work; and auditorium renovations at Freehold High School.

Question No. 2 ($12 million) proposes bleacher replacements and new STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) rooms at each high school.

Question No. 3 ($8.5 million) proposes the installation of synthetic turf athletic fields at Freehold Township High School, Manalapan High School and Marlboro High School, and a new media center at Colts Neck High School.

District administrators have said Question No. 2 and Question No. 3, together or individually, can only pass if Question No. 1 is approved by voters.

Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson has said the board’s plan “is to enhance building security, make critical infrastructure upgrades, modernize classrooms and update athletic facilities all without an increase in the Freehold Regional’s current tax levy.”

Sampson said debt from the bonds that were issued following the district’s last referendum 20 years ago will expire at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

He said, “FRHSD: Ensuring Excellence proposes repurposing that debt by issuing new bonds to complete the proposed projects. The expiring debt means the tax levy will not increase to pay the new bonds.

“In addition, the district will receive debt service aid from the state toward the projects in (the referendum). If the referendum is approved by voters, the state will pick up 24% of the ensuing debt.

“If the referendum is not approved by voters, the critical projects contained in FRHSD: Ensuring Excellence will not receive any aid toward their completion,” Sampson said.

The superintendent said a majority of the work in the proposed referendum must be undertaken within the next few years regardless of whether the referendum is approved by voters.

The district’s sending municipalities are Colts Neck, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.

The district educates about 10,800 students at high schools in Colts Neck, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.

For more information, visit www.frhsd.com and follow the district’s social media accounts to learn more about the project specifics in FRHSD: Ensuring Excellence.

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