This Tuesday, after much discussion and many presentations, voters in Warren Township, Watchung and Long Hill Township are being asked to approve a $12.5-million bond ordinance to replace, repave and otherwise improve building infrastructure at Warren Hills Regional High School.
Voters are scheduled to go to the polls in those three towns next Tuesday to consider a ballot question seeking approval of funding for those projects, with the state having promised to contribute about $5 million. That would leave taxpayers in the sending towns to share just over $7.5 million to be paid for by selling 15-year bonds.
A presentation last week at the high school began with a Vimeo, available on the school website, touring what are described as critical items needing to be addressed, such as 50-plus year old steam pipes that are malfunctioning, a soggy roof; a dirt emergency access road that can't be accessed by emergency or maintenance vehicles, parking lots that need drainage work and more.
WHRHS Business Administrator Tim Stys told the audience last week that if the referendum doesn't pass, the problems 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."
Right now, he said, the state has a current construction fund which has committed to fund $5 million of the repair costs. He said the projects listed in the referendum, which also include the replacement or repairs of two-thirds of exhaust fans that bring fresh air in and out of the building, are listed by the state as "tier one" — meaning they affect health and safety.
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.
School board meetings
Meanwhile, despite the activity that will be going on at the polls and tallying votes, the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education is scheduled to meet in the media center at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
The Warren Township Board of Education is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on Monday in the district's board offices at 213 Mount Horeb Road.
The Warren Township Planning Board meeting that had been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday night has been canceled, according to the Warren Township website.