WOODBRIDGE – An $87 million referendum, if approved by voters on March 10, will replace century old schools in the Woodbridge Township School District and result in improvements and increased security at a number of schools.
Polls will be open from 2-8 p.m.
Mayor John E. McCormac said the referendum would be paid for by a warehouse project run by Morris Companies on Rahway Avenue.
“We have done very well attracting economic projects to town,” the mayor said. “We paid for all the [sports] fields between 2013 and 2017 with money from those projects, primarily the big CPV power plant [in Keasbey] and a couple of warehouses.”
“We are paying for the 2017 referendum primarily with all of the downtown redevelopment projects coming in, neither costing taxpayers any money,” the mayor said.
Superintendent of Schools Robert Zega said the highlight of the March 10 referendum will be Avenel Street School No. 4/5, the oldest school in the district at more than 100 years old.
“We are going to be replacing that school, building on a different location off Rahway Avenue,” Zega said.
In addition, Ford Avenue School No. 14, which is 96 years old, will close.
“That is our smallest elementary school and requires so much renovation,” Zega said. “We decided to close that school and move those kids to [School No.] 25.”
The referendum also proposed a large addition at Matthew Jago School No. 28 in Sewaren; a large addition at Lafayette Estates School No. 25 in Fords; and finalized connections for Lynn Crest School No. 22 in Colonia, Woodbine Elementary School No. 23 in Avenel, Kennedy Park School No. 24 in Iselin and Lafayette Estates.
Zega said the referendum would provide each school with safety and security money – new cameras, better cameras, front door entrance improvements and additional doors.
The JFK Memorial High School fieldhouse will be renovated and become accessible in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Zega said every school in the district would see some type of improvement as a result of the referendum.
A referendum in 2017 addressed two of the district’s oldest schools – Ross Street School No. 11, which was 100 years old, and parts of Woodbridge Middle School.
“Right now the first phase of Ross Street is completed,” the superintendent said, calling the new school one of nicest schools in New Jersey. “Woodbridge Middle School underwent extensive renovation, opened in January and is completely different from what it used to be. It’s unrecognizable.”
In 2017, the school district had five buildings that were 100 years old or close to that age. Zega said two of those buildings were addressed in the 2017 referendum and the final three will be addressed in the March 10 referendum.
The $57.7 million referendum in 2017 included the implementation of a full-day kindergarten program and district-wide technology and security upgrades.
“[Full-day kindergarten is] something residents had been asking for for years,” Zega said. “We are seeing the academic gains of those students now.”
Zega said if the March 10 referendum is approved, administrators will follow a bid process by the end of 2020.
The Woodbridge Township School District is comprised of three high schools, five middle schools and 17 elementary schools.