Voters in the three sending districts will head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to approve a full list of improvements and replacement projects for the building and property at Watchung Hills Regional High School.
The referendum was long in the discussion stage and was outlined in a presentation to voters last Monday. School officials said the state considers the projects that would be funded to be "Tier 1" safety and health issues, and has committed $5 million toward a total cost of $12.5 million, with the remainder to be picked up by taxpayers in the sending district.
The projects include a series of major repair projects board members have been trying to find funding to undertake for several years, including replacing the 57-year-old steam heating pipe system in the South Building, replacing the roof on the South and North buildings, replace non-functioning exhaust fans, and replace the leaking glass window wall.
The referendum question also will include funding for redesign of the school's two cafeterias for improved efficiency, install an emergency access roadway at the south end of the school, and repave the school's parking lots.
According to WHRHS Business Administrator Tim Stys, if the referendum doesn't pass, the problems that would be address still will need to be fixed — and at a higher cost. "It's guaranteed later [they] will cost more," Stys said. "You have the state aid; in the future you don't know."
According to school district figures, if the referendum passes, the impact on sending districts would be: Long Hill Township, another annual $46 in property tax on a home valued at $383,929; in Warren Township, another annual $53 on a home valued at $643,250; and in Watchung Borough, another $48 in a home valued at $628,724. Green Brook sends students to the high school on a tuition-paying basis.
Warren Township — Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Districts 1 and 3 — Mt. Horeb Firehouse, 14 Elm Avenue
Districts 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13 — Our Lady of the Mount Parish Center, 167 Mt. Bethel Road
Districts 11 and 12 — Warren Township Library, 42 Mountain Boulevard
Watchung Borough — Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
All Districts — Valley View School, 50 Valley View Road
Long Hill Township — Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Districts 1 and 2 — All Saints Church Parish House, 15 Basking Ridge Road
Districts 3 and 4 — Stirling Firehouse, 321 Somerset Street
Districts 5 and 6 — Senior Community Center, 769 Valley Road