Growth justifies Kingsway bond

Published: Friday, September 09, 2011, 3:00 AM
By Gloucester County Times Editorial Board

Nobody wants to raise their own taxes. It's only human nature. The Kingsway Regional School District, however, has offered some good reasons to vote "yes" on a school bond referendum set for Sept. 27.

The 2010 census confirms what local officials have long maintained: Kingsway serves the two fastest-growing municipalities in New Jersey - Woolwich and East Greenwich. Although Gloucester proved to be the fastest-growing county in the state, Woolwich and East Greenwich not only led the county's pack of burgeoning towns but topped the state list as well.

Such rapid population growth strains a regional school system. Kingsway, which educates students from grades 7 through 12, also serves three other towns in the southwest corner of the county: Swedesboro, part of the combined Swedesboro-Woolwich elementary district; South Harrison; and Logan, for grades 9 through 12 only. The 2010 census reported a total population for Woolwich, East Greenwich, South Harrison, and Swedesboro of 25,501, a near 100 percent increase since 2000. In the same period, Kingsway's enrollment increased by 60 percent, from 1,387 to 2,224, and could reach 3,000 in 2015 when current third graders enter seventh grade - even if no more families move into the area.

Two years ago, Kingsway got state approval for 41 new classrooms along with a guarantee of $8.4 million in state funds toward a $31.1 million expansion. Although the project was voted down last year, census numbers clearly support the need for more classrooms at Kingsway.

On the same date, though, a referendum is also scheduled for East Greenwich - $25.4 million, of which $7 million is covered by the state. This project has already been defeated twice. The population growth curve is similar to that in Woolwich, and there may be justification for new classrooms in East Greenwich, too.

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