The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education expects to place a $14.46 million referendum that will address paving and roofing projects at the district’s six high schools before voters in the district’s eight sending municipalities on Election Day, Nov. 2.
It will mark the third time in four years that residents of the district’s sending municipalities have been asked to approve a public question. Referendums in October 2018 and November 2019 were defeated by voters.
During an April 29 board meeting held at Howell High School, Assistant Superintendent for Business Administration Sean Boyce discussed what the referendum entails and what the district’s administrators will be asking for from voters.
According to Boyce, the referendum will consist of projects known as Priority 1, the most urgent areas that require fixing. Boyce also reviewed projects known as Priority 2 that will require work within three to five years.
The total cost for the Priority 1 projects is estimated at $14.46 million and is as follows:
• $5.02 million in partial paving; Colts Neck High School, $1.3 million; Freehold High School, $543,000; Freehold Township High School, $311,000; Howell High School, $1.23 million; Manalapan High School, $946,000; and Marlboro High School, $690,000.
• $9.44 million in partial roofing; Colts Neck High School, $3.06 million; Freehold High School, $45,000; Freehold Township High School, $2.99 million; Howell High School, $822,000; Manalapan High School, $685,000; and Marlboro High School, $1.85 million/
The total cost for the Priority 2 projects, which are not included in the proposed referendum, would be $9.38 million and is as follows:
- $1.38 million in partial paving; Freehold High School, $280,000; Freehold Township High School, $740,000; and Howell High School, $360,000;
- $8 million in partial roofing; Colts Neck High School, $915,000; Freehold High School, $363,000; Freehold Township High School, $1.65 million; Howell High School, $1.93 million; Manalapan High School, $1.97 million; and Marlboro High School, $1.17 million.
When asked about the Priority 2 projects, Boyce said funding for those projects would have to be included in future school budgets.
During the meeting, board members Peter Bruno, Marc Parisi, Diana Cappiello, Debra Fanelli, Elizabeth Higley, Michael Messinger and Adam Weiss voted “yes” on a motion to pass a resolution which which authorizes certain actions to be taken in connection with the proposed school facilities projects.
Board members Heshy Moses and Kathie Lavin were absent from the meeting.
Before passing the resolution, the board members heard from architect Ted Hopkins, who said the upcoming referendum will focus on roofing and paving work. Hopkins said he visited all six schools in the district to assess the condition of the roofs and the parking lot.
His observations form the basis of the proposal that residents of the district will be asked to approve.
The board has approved the preparation of schematic plans and educational specifications, if required, by Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie, P.C., in connection with the projects and the board authorized and directed the firm to submit the plans and specifications to the New Jersey Department of Education and to the Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools for review and approval.
The board also authorized and directed the submission of the schematic plans to each respective planning board for its review.
The board also approved an amendment to the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan, as necessary, to reflect the projects and approved the submission of the amendment to the New Jersey Department of Education.
The board approved the project applications and directed its architect to submit the applications to the New Jersey Department of Education seeking debt service aid for the Projects.
According to the resolution, district administrators will “take all action required to preserve the opportunity to present the projects to the voters via a bond referendum at the
school district election to be held on Nov. 2, 2021 or such other date as may be
available to the board.”
Boyce said the board members will finalize the referendum question at their Aug. 26 meeting.
“After failing (to pass) two referendums in 2018 and 2019, we showed a great amount of restraint on what we are going to put forward to the community” in 2021, Boyce said.
“We were inclined to be very specific about the things that were the most urgent needs and put those up there, while at the same time place a mechanism to generate funding that could be accumulated to address the second tier of priorities,” he said.
“I want to thank Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson and Mr. Boyce for the work they have done,” Parisi said. “I have sat in on many Finance Committee meetings as we have discussed the different nuances of this referendum and the necessity that we provide the capital to make sure our roofs are functional and our parking lots are safe.
“Our buildings are not that different from your home. When major projects on your home need to be done, often times you don’t have the money sitting around in your savings account.
“We don’t have this money sitting around. It is needed to make improvements to our buildings so our students can come to a school building sufficient for their education,” said Parisi, who is one of Howell’s two representatives on the school board.
Sampson said the proposal that will be placed before voters in Colts Neck, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro will be a “bare bones referendum. Hopefully, that will resonate with our communities.”
Boyce said if the referendum does not pass, it does not mean district administrators will forego the repairs that are needed on the school roofs and in the parking lots.
Rather, he said the funds that would be needed to make the repairs would have to come out of the district’s operating budget, which generally funds the educational services and programs that are provided to students.
— Managing Editor Mark Rosman contributed to this article.