Ocean Township taxpayers will be asked to approve a $28.9 million bond referendum to pay for improvements to all schools in the district but approving the referendum will not add anything to the current school tax rate for debt service, school officials said earlier this week.
Taxpayers will cast their votes on the referendum during a special election on Dec. 9 at their regular polling places from 7 am to 9 pm. A special public meeting on the referendum was held last night, Oct. 8, at the Wayside School on Bowne Road.
More public forums are being planned and updated information will be posted on the school district’s web site (www.OceanSchools.org).
School Business Administrator Kenneth Jannarone said the bonds to pay for the referendum will be paid off over a 20-year period but not add any additional burden to taxpayers
“If it passes, the additional cost for debt service would not increase from what taxpayers are paying now. There will be no additional debt service because these bonds will replace bonds issued in 1995, which will be paid off. We are basically replacing one debt service with another and, actually, this one is a little less,” he said.
If approved, bonds will be issued next year and improvement and renovation projects throughout the district would begin in the summer of next year and into 2016.
Money from the referendum will be used district-wide to make improvements at all schools.
Projects include renovations and additions to performing arts programs at the elementary schools and the high school. The high school renovations will include a new band room, a Black Box theatre, and a dance studio. There will also be renovations to the current auditorium space. Elementary schools will have their existing arts and music rooms enhanced.
Money will also be spent to add to the district’s physical performance and wellness programs, with the focus on physical education, sports medicine and athletic programs. A new addition will be built at the high school to house the wrestling and fitness center that is now housed in a 30-year-old trailer. Newer and more modern equipment will also be purchased.
A second gymnasium will also be built at the high school.
“We are one of the only high schools in the Shore Conference with only one gym. Another gym will enhance our physical education programs, make it easier to schedule athletic events, and will also provide another great space for the community to use,” Superintendent of Schools James Stefankiewicz said.
He said the gym can serve multiple purposes and may be opened to the public in the future.
Renovations to science, technology, engineering and math facilities (STEM programs) will also be made, particularly at the Intermediate School.
“We will be renovating existing science labs and make them state-of-the-art. In order to keep up with advances in science and technology, we need to update these labs into modern facilities,” Stefankiewicz said.
There will also be enhancements made to small group instruction at the elementary schools, particularly at the Wayside Elementary School.
“New classrooms will be added to the schools to provide smaller learning environments with class sizes of up to about 10 students,” Stefaniewicz said.
Upgrades to climate controls in all district building will also be made to enhance heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
Sound amplification systems for special education students will also be installed in elementary school classrooms.
“But this will really help all students in their classrooms,” Stefaniewicz said.