Eatontown voters OK $30 million
schools upgrade
March 14, 2006
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 03/15/06 BY KEITH BROWN

Work planned 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 and Vetter.
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 Tuesday.
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 of 62-85.
To most residents interviewed outside polling stations, the cost is worth it.

"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 old."

Kerry Wilson of Elm Place said his vote supporting the referendum was a first.
"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 agreed.

"I think it's important to support the schools," said Kathy Stromberg of Jeryl Street. "These schools are in desperate need of repair."

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."

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