for four buildings
EATONTOWN - Voters on Tuesday decided better schools are worth a tax
increase when they approved a nearly $30 million proposal to upgrade
the district's aging school stock. Design was by Garrison Architects
of Mount Laurel.
The kindergarten-through-eighth-grade district asked voters in a referendum
to approve spending $29,794,988 for construction and upgrades to Memorial
Middle School and the three elementary schools - Woodmere, Meadowbrook
Voters responded 481-401 in favor of the plan, according to preliminary
tallies, Borough Clerk Karen Siano said. The early numbers include 16
absentee ballots. There are two provisional ballots outstanding, Siano
said. At the Board of Education offices at the former Steelman School
on Broad Street, district officials were celebrating.
"It's the best thing that could have happened for these kids,"
Schools Superintendent Jean E. Hoover said. "We're thrilled that
the parents supported us."
The cost of the construction plans will be shared between residents
and the state, which has pledged $11,683,498. Residents will pick up
the remainder in an $18,111,490 tax levy. That will cost the owner of
a home assessed at $400,000 - the new borough average - $182.72 a year
for the next 25 years, according to Business Administrator Norma Tursi.
About 12 percent, or 882, of the 7,652 registered voters cast ballots
But Board of Education President John Schiels said the low turnout was
about what officials expected.
"I was pleased with the turnout and everything that happened tonight
and want to thank the residents of Eatontown," Schiels said. The
referendum was approved by residents at three of four polling stations,
Siano said. Voters in districts 1 and 2 - who cast ballots at the borough's
Community Center on Broad Street - rejected the tax increase by a vote
To most residents interviewed outside polling stations, the cost is
"I don't mind paying the extra money in taxes for it (school construction),"
said Raye Futerfas, 50, of Oxford Lane. "These schools are 50 years
Kerry Wilson of Elm Place said his vote supporting the referendum was
"Normally I vote "no' on school issues because I don't have
kids in the schools," said Wilson, 58, of Elm Place. "But
these schools are in bad shape. So today, I'm voting "yes.' "
School officials have argued that the buildings - some more than 50
years old - need major renovations that justify the cost. Residents
"I think it's important to support the schools," said Kathy
Stromberg of Jeryl Street. "These schools are in desperate need
At Memorial School, which houses the seventh and eighth grades, Tuesday's
vote means the building will get a new library as well as art, science
and music classrooms, among other improvements.
Plans for Vetter, Meadowbrook and Woodmere schools include new classrooms
and structural upgrades, such as heating and air conditioning.
"I've got 18 years, minimum, in this district, so I'm all for it,"
said Courtland Road resident Sean Pflug, 38, who has a child at Woodmere
Elementary School and recently adopted a newborn. "I feel lucky
living in Eatontown. Taxes are fairly low here."