Kingsway and East Greenwich referenda the only in the state to pass
Thursday, September 29, 20111, 4:00 AM
By Rebecca Forand/Gloucester County Times

WOOLWICH TWP. — Voters in five school districts throughout New Jersey were asked Tuesday night to approve millions of dollars in spending to expand school buildings — but the only success that was seen was in Gloucester County’s two elections.

Both Kingsway and East Greenwich’s referendum passed Tuesday night to designs by Garrison Architects of Marlton.

The towns that comprise the Kingsway school district approved the referendum by a greater margin than originally reported.

The Kingsway district had posed a $31.1 million bond referendum on Tuesday — $ 8.4 million of which will be covered by state grants — to voters in order to add 41 classrooms to its middle and high schools.

The measure passed by a margin of 1,816 to 1,623, or 52.81 percent to 47.19 percent.

Due to a glitch in internet connection, the county’s unofficial election results Tuesday night did not reflect all of the counted votes, showing a smaller margin than the final results show, according to the Gloucester County Board of Elections.

“There’s no doubt that the community here wants to support our school systems” said Kingsway Superintendent Jim Lavender. “I think people are beginning to understand the plight of what we’re going through here at Kingsway.

The other local referendum held Tuesday night was for the East Greenwich school district, which asked voters to approve two measures. The first was a $22.5 million project that would add classrooms and expand the cafeteria and the second, an additional $2.8 million project for offices, gymnasium expansions and entrance canopies.

The district’s voters approved the first, but declined the second.

Bond referenda in the Bergen, Monmouth and Morris counties all failed to pass with voters Tuesday.

“There were five districts throughout the state that had referendum questions and Gloucester County was the only area in the state that saw success,” said Mike Yaple spokesman from the New Jersey School Board’s Association.

School boards throughout the state have five dates each year that they can pose referendum questions to voters, and historically September has been the busiest date, according to Yaple. However, the poor economy has seen fewer districts doing so and even fewer being successful.

The project in the Kingsway district and the first question in East Greenwich are both mainly classroom additions, or items that voters often are more likely to view as necessary and approve, whereas East Greenwich’s second question, and the referenda from other areas in the state included more superfluous additions, making them less likely to be approved.

The referendum in the Park Ridge district in Bergen County was to install artificial turf and lights on the school’s football field. In Monmouth County the Monmouth Regional School District asked for solar panels and renovations to the high school. And the Montville Township, Morris County, district had requested a transfer from the general operating budget to the capital reserve account to pay for the installation of a turf field at the high school.

“Generally we find the further away from the classrooms the lower the success rate. Voters are less likely to approve athletic field or new turf and bleachers,” Yaple said. “It’s a difficult economy so you’ve seen school districts going out and offering really scaled down proposals and things they really need.”


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