Sayreville School District to hold special election in October for building improvements

SAYREVILLE – The Sayreville School District will have a special election to determine if the Board of Education may appropriate $97.5 million in bonds to improve the district’s schools, with focus on improving the air conditioning at every facility.

Board members passed a resolution during a recent meeting that provides for the Oct. 4 referendum. Voters will be asked to approve the district’s $97.5 bond proposal for the facility improvements. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to district administrators.

If approved, according to district administrators, the board is authorized to undertake major air conditioning improvements and rehabilitation, renovations, alterations and improvements at the Emma L. Arleth Elementary School, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School, the Harry S. Truman Elementary School, the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, the Samsel Upper Elementary School (SUES), the Sayreville Middle School (SMS) and the Sayreville War Memorial High School (SWMHS).

According to district administrators, $24.8 million will be allocated to SUES, $24.5 million will be allocated towards SWMHS, $18.6 million will be allocated to SMS, $6.78 million will be allocated to Wilson, $6.71 million will be allocated to Arleth, $5.81 million will be allocated to Truman, $5.74 million will be allocated to Eisenhower, and $4.5 million will be allocated to Selover if the referendum is approved.

The projects sought by the referendum will be for the purpose of upgrading the electrical grid infrastructures, windows, doors, roofs, and the installation of central air conditioning in every space within every school, with focus on second floors, according to the district website.

The average age of the district’s school buildings is approximately 60. Furthermore, due to being underfunded by the state of New Jersey and the very lean budgets over the past two decades, the facilities in the district are in desperate need of renovation and refurbishment, according to the district website.

The referendum also seeks to renovate Selover, which is scheduled to become the district’s second pre-kindergarten facility in the fall. The renovations are intended to allow Selover to meet all school building code requirements for a preschool and for the construction of a secure retention vestibule, according to the district website.

According to a presentation, $77 million will be allocated to HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) improvements, $13.8 million will be allocated to windows improvements, $5.7 million will be allocated roofing improvements and $1.1 million will be allocated to the code compliance at Selover, if the referendum is approved.

The design and the construction of the improvements are scheduled to take place over three phases from October 2022 to December 2025 if the referendum is approved, according to the presentation.

If the referendum is not approved, the presentation says that work will still have to occur, but the district will not receive any debt service aid assistance from the state and the entire cost of the projects will be passed on to Sayreville taxpayers. The projects will also need to be bid out over an extended period of time, which will cost the district more money.

During the recent board meeting, board member Eloy Fernandez said the district was approved for a potential debt service relief of 29% for the referendum.

“This would result in a significant savings to the taxpayers and reduce the overall cost of the bonds,” Fernandez said. “If the referendum doesn’t pass in the fall, we risk losing the debt service relief, which will make the referendum more expensive in the future.”

Board member Dan Balka stated that he was not in favor of the project due to rising costs and rising interest rates, but voted in favor of the referendum to allow voters to decide on approving the project.

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