On Jan. 23, Lawrence Township voters will have an opportunity to voice their opinion on a $25.1M referendum school district officials say would allow them to address pressing facilities issues at all seven township schools.
An approved referendum would mean the school district could take out loans to install air conditioning in classrooms and other spaces not already air conditioned at all schools, replace boilers at the middle and high schools, install an elevator at Lawrence Middle School, renovate and replace ramps, windows and siding in modular classrooms at the four elementary schools, install or replace security access controls, paging, monitoring and telephone systems at all schools and install security vestibules at the main entrances at Slackwood Elementary, Eldridge Park Elementary, Lawrence Intermediate and Lawrence Middle schools. (Ben Franklin Elementary, Lawrenceville Elementary and Lawrence High already have security vestibules.)
Installing air conditioning is the bulk of the proposed referendum, with a cost of $20.6M. The referendum also includes $477,949 in security and telecommunications upgrades for the district’s warehouse, maintenance and administration buildings. The remaining items—the accessibility, safety and plant concerns at the school buildings—total $3.98M.
If they approve the measure, taxpayers would see their taxes go up $30 for every $100,000 of assessed home value, until the loans were paid off in 15 years. For a house assessed at $250,000, that’d be $75 each year for 15 years. This is separate from any tax increase may decide to include in its annual budgets during that span.
According to the district, the 2016 community survey ranked air conditioning learning spaces as the area most in need of improvement. Classrooms and other additions from the 2002 referendum have been air conditioned since the time of construction, and the district has since installed air conditioning in some gyms, classrooms, cafeterias, and auditoriums. The referendum would complete the process of adding air conditioning to the schools.
Lawrence residents can vote on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at their standard polling place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The referendum question will be the only item on the ballot.