Voters to decide on repairs
to four Eatontown schools
March 13, 2005


EATONTOWN - The Board of Education will ask voters in a September referendum to approve close to $32 million in new construction costs for the district's four aging schools.

After six months of haggling, the ad hoc committee charged with honing a construction plan and crafting a referendum question that would pay for the extensive construction recommended to the school board on Wednesday a meld of three separate building options that had been considered since October.

Among major renovations to the district's schools, the committee recommended razing most of Memorial School, which houses seventh and eighth graders, and replacing it with a two-story building large enough to accommodate the district's sixth graders, who currently are scattered among Vetter, Woodmere and Meadowbrook elementary schools.

The recommendation will be included in a September referendum question asking voters to approve more than $28 million for the proje! ct.

The committee also recommended a second ballot question asking voters to approve $5.6 million for gymnasiums, art rooms and music rooms for Meadowbrook and Vetter schools.

Total cost of the two questions is estimated at more than $44 million.

Estimated state aid reduces the cost for both questions by an estimated $12 million to around $32 million, according to figures provided by Garrison Architects, of Mount Laurel. The board in March hired Garrison to shepherd the referendum process.

A breakdown of the cost to each homeowner was not available Wednesday.

"I think we came up with the right plan," said Stacey Bruno, a Campbell Drive resident, school district parent and member of the ad hoc committee.

The school board agreed.

Board member Joseph Questore thanked the committee for its work and offered the recommendations to the board. After only a few minutes of discussion, the board voted unanimously to accept t! he recommendations.

By doing so, the board charged charged Garr ison to come up with a design model for the plan. By April, Garrison will apply for aid from the state Department of Education for.

The district is pushing to renovate the schools now because the state Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act is expected to run dry in early 2006.

The state offers up to 40 percent of the cost of some school construction projects in districts such as Eatontown.

Officials argue the buildings - some of which are more than 50 years old - need major renovations that justify the cost. The referendum is slated for September 27.

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