Voters in Wenonah, New Jersey go to the polls Tuesday to consider $ 2.9 million compulsory education proposal for renovations that would include installing a new gymnasium floor and air conditioning and repairing the roof of the only school in the South Jersey district.
This is the first referendum on school obligations in the Gloucester County system in nearly two decades and the only Tuesday by a district in southern Jersey that asks voters to consider a proposal for additional spending that would raise local property taxes.
The proposal includes a list of repairs and renovations inside and outside the Wenonah K-6 Elementary School, 180 students, such as new bathrooms, new cafeteria tables, concrete ramps , HVAC upgrades and technology upgrades.
The school’s chief administrator, Kristine Height, said the roof project is one of the top priorities. One section dates from 1922 and patches are no longer a viable option, she said.
“They have exceeded their life expectancy,” said Denise DiJohn, interim business administrator.
The proposal also includes replacing the gymnasium’s floor, which was originally laid with material containing mercury and emitting small amounts of mercury, Height said. The gymnasium was previously used as a community center, but the district has suspended community use of the gymnasium until the floor is replaced, she said. It remains open to students.
After a tornado hit the community of around 2,200 residents earlier this month as Hurricane Ida hit the area, a proposal to install an emergency gas generator in the school has taken hold. new importance. Some residents of the 1 square mile town were without power for several days.
Under the bond proposal, the school could be used as a shelter in the event of weather and other emergencies.
“If we had had this generator, it would have made a huge difference,” said DiJohn.
If voters approve the bond, the state will contribute about $ 1.2 million, about 40%, towards the cost of the projects, leaving a tab of $ 1.7 million for residents. That would mean an annual increase of $ 152.64 on a home valued at around $ 260,000, the borough average. The deposit would be paid over 20 years.
Height said school officials put up signs in the city to raise awareness about the referendum. If the measure failed, she said the district would likely appeal to voters a second time later this year.
“We don’t really have a lot of choice,” Height said.
Statewide, voters in Wenonah and three other districts in Sussex, Union and Morris counties will consider school building bonds totaling nearly $ 96.6 million on Tuesday. Some are entitled to state funding to cover part of the costs.
Tuesday is one of five times during the year that school boards may offer a bond issue or special issue to pay for school projects. The next date for a special election is December 14.
Polling stations in Wenonah will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.