By Lisa Helem BCT staff writer
DELANCO - The Delanco School District has scheduled a special election
Jan. 28 to ask voters to approve a $5.3 million bond referendum for
additions and improvements to the township's Walnut Street and Pearson
If the referendum passes, the Board of Education hopes to build 25,491
square feet of classroom space for 150 students expected to enter the
district in the next five years.
The referendum would ask taxpayers to pay $5.3 million, or 68 percent
of the project total, currently pegged at $7.7 million, Superintendent
Joseph Miller said.
For the owner of a home assessed at $100,000, the township average,
referendum approval would cost 12 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation,
or an extra $120 a year.
Improvements at the Pearson School would include six new classrooms,
a computer lab, gym and full-service kitchen totaling 24,234 square
feet. At the Walnut Street School, the library and computer lab would
be expanded to meet state code. Additional space there would total 1,257
The project includes plans to upgrade heating, lighting, ventilation,
fire alarms and communications systems. It also includes making restrooms
handicapped-accessible at both schools, Miller said.
The 32 percent of the project not covered by local taxes would be funded
by state Economic Development Authority funds marked for use by school
districts. Last Wednesday, the authority notified the district it would
qualify for $2.4 million, Miller said.
The project was created after the board produced a five-year plan on
the impact new developments would have on school enrollment. The firm
found that new homes would add 150 students to the district in the next
five years, Miller said.
After a volunteer township task force reviewed the plan and recommended
school improvements in September, the board voted to approve a proposal
from Mount Laurel-based architectural firm Garrison Architects,
said Board of Education President James DiMiero.
The board has scheduled a special meeting tomorrow to vote on the wording
of the proposal to be put before voters.
In a town where voters have defeated school budgets in the last seven
elections, the success of the referendum will depend on the long-range
vision of residents, DiMiero said. "When voters go to the polls
they have to understand two things. One is that it's needed and the
other is that it's the most cost-efficient plan. Three things are in
our favor: state funding, interest rates are at an all-time low and
competition among construction companies is good."
DiMiero is pegging his hopes on approval. "Delanco residents have
to realize that this is their school. The upgrades are for the town,"