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Voters approve FRHSD referendum for roofing, paving projects at six schools

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Voters in the Freehold Regional High School District have approved a $14.46 million referendum that will address paving and roofing projects at the district’s six high schools.

According to district administrators, the state will pick up 40% of the cost, meaning the work will cost the school district $8.68 million instead of the full $14.46 million.

District administrators said the impact of the referendum on the FRHSD portion of a resident’s property tax bill is an estimated increase of less than one-half of 1%.

The municipalities in the FRHSD are Colts Neck, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.

The 2021 election was conducted with vote by mail ballots; with early in-person voting on nine days in late October; and with in-person voting on Nov. 2.

According to election results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, as of Nov. 8 the total vote on the referendum was 37,296 “yes” votes to 25,910 “no” votes.

Vote by mail ballots were still being received and could be counted until Nov. 8. Provisional ballots also remained to be counted. The result of the vote will not be official until it is certified by the county.

The total vote from the eight sending municipalities in the FRHSD determined the success of the referendum; not the result from any one community.

The expenditure of $14.46 million for the proposed roofing and paving upgrades is appropriated as follows: $4.352 million at Colts Neck High School; $588,000 at Freehold High School, Freehold Borough; $3.296 million at Freehold Township High School; $2.055 million at Howell High School; $1.631 million at Manalapan High School; and $2.538 million at Marlboro High School.

In a message to the community following the election, Superintendent of Schools Charles B. Sampson said, “Thank you for supporting our students, thank you for trusting our school district and thank you for taking the time to participate in yesterday’s election. … I am so proud to be a part of a community that believes in the value of providing a well-rounded educational experience for our students in well-maintained facilities.

“Our immediate plan is to move forward with the issuance of the bonds. When those are obtained we will be able to move forward to complete the roofing and paving projects. … Rest assured, we will continue our tradition of fiscal responsibility in completing these projects and crafting future operating budgets.

“I would be remiss if I did not thank our Board of Education members and community members for their hard work supporting this referendum. … Your assistance is greatly appreciated. This was a long journey and I am happy to see the Freehold Regional continuing in the right direction,” Sampson said.

In the months leading up to the vote, FRHSD administrators said the district “has critical, urgent infrastructure needs, including roofing and paving projects, that must be addressed. There are two ways in which a school district can pay for these projects – through bond referendum or through the annual operating budget.

“In the Freehold Regional’s situation, the hardship of losing approximately $30 million in state aid under Senate Bill 2 makes it impossible to include this work in our annual operating budget without having to make significant cuts elsewhere. As a result, the Freehold Regional High School District is seeking voter approval … on a referendum to issue bonds to complete this work.”

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