Cape school bond votes set for January

Cape May CountyNews on November 30, 2015
By Richard Degener, Staff Writer

LOWER TWP -  "Voters in three southern Cape May County towns will to the polls in January to decide on $11.5 million of improvements to five different schools.

Two different school districts are involved but to save money they are hosting the special Jan. 26 election together.

The Lower Township School District seeks approval to spend $5.1 million to do work at the Carl T. Mitnick, Maud

Abrams, and Sandman Consolidated schools. Most of the money is for roof work but some would cover mechanical systems, entrance roads and parking lots.

“We not asking for glamorous stuff here, just roofs and parking lots,” said Business Administrator Frank Onorato.

The polls will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. for voters from Lower Township to decide on that bond issue. Onorato said 40 percent of the project, or $2,048,589, will paid by the state. The local share is just $3,072,884.

Onorato said the project would add $13.15 per year, for the life of the 20-year bond, in school taxes based on the average residential assessment of $228,751.

Lower Township voters will be joined by voters from Cape May and West Cape May in deciding the fate of a $6.4 million project at the Lower Cape May Regional School District. This includes work to both Lower Cape May Regional High School and the Richard M. Teitelman junior high. The state would fund 22 percent of this project so the local share is $4,945,778.

The highlight is a new 11,322 square-foot field house where the tennis courts are now. The school would use the township’s tennis courts nearby at the Freeman Douglass Memorial Park.

Superintendent Christopher Kobik said the tennis courts were in need of $440,000 in repairs so that money would be saved. The field house will be used for cheerleading, bands, wrestling, baseball, other sports, along with many other after-school and extra-curricular activities.

“If the kids are busy they stay out of trouble and are less likely to get involved in drugs and alcohol. Our kids need that and it is a responsibility of the school district to supply it,” Kobik said.

The high school, constructed in 1959, would get new windows, roof work, a new security vestibule and front door, and locker rooms in the gym would be renovated. The parking lot would also be resurfaced.

The junior high constructed in 1974 would get some windows, roof work, a resurfaced parking lot, new security vestibule, and an electrical upgrade. Kobik said the electrical system can’t handle computer systems and upgrading it would allow the school to even consider some air conditioning.

“Two outlets in a classroom just doesn’t cut it nowadays,” Kobik said.

The tax impact varies in the three towns. Based on average residential assessments, it would add $13.63 per year in Lower Township, $22.91 in Cape May and $26.25 in West Cape May.

The average assessment is lowest in the township at $228,751. It is highest in Cape May at $629,926. For somebody living in Cape May with Lower Township’s average assessment of $228,751 the taxes would increase just $8.32 per year.

The district’s website has more information including a way for individual property owners to figure out the tax implications. The site is: www.lcmrschooldistrict.com and click on school bond referendum.

Having a January vote will allow much of the work to be done next summer when school is not in session. The districts saved money by hiring Garrison Architects of Bellmawr (Camden County) to design both projects. Money could also be saved on hiring contractors for things like parking lots and roofing with the projects combined. The election will cost $24,265 but this is also a savings on doing them separately.

Kobik noted the school is retiring debt from constructing the Performing Arts Center and is instituting an energy-savings plan that will save up to $8.5 million over 15 years.

“We’re trying to be as fiscally responsible to the taxpayer as we can and still provide the quality of educational services the students deserve,” Kobik said.

 

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