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Voters may be asked to approve Freehold Regional High School District referendum

Later this month, the members of the Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education may announce a plan to place a facilities improvement referendum before voters in the district’s eight sending municipalities.

The possibility of placing a referendum on the ballot was mentioned during the board’s March 11 meeting by Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson.

On Nov. 5, 2019, voters rejected a $41.7 million facilities improvement referendum. The district has eight sending municipalities – Colts Neck, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro. The total vote from all eight municipalities combined determined the outcome of each question.

The board proposed alterations, renovations and improvements at the district’s high schools in Colts Neck, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro in the form of three questions.

Question No. 1 ($20 million) proposed security initiatives; roofing and paving work; and auditorium renovations at Freehold High School. The question was defeated by about 800 votes.

Question No. 2 ($12 million) proposed bleacher replacements and new STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) rooms at each high school. The question was defeated by about 2,000 votes.

Question No. 3 ($8.5 million) proposed 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. The question was defeated by about 2,700 votes.

On March 11, Sampson said any referendum that is placed before voters in 2021 will be “significantly pared down from the last time (2019). We have regrouped, but tens of millions of dollars for projects such as roof repairs, paving and other infrastructure needs cannot be covered in our operating budget.”

Board member Michael Messinger of Marlboro presented a report from the Finance Committee and said costs related to roof repairs and paving at the high schools are being determined. Messinger said $10 million is the working number for those projects.

District administrators said the board’s April 29 meeting could be the evening when a decision regarding a facilities improvement referendum may be made.

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