Our next steps for continuing
The communities that make up Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District take great pride in the schools where we prepare more than 3,000 students for their next steps in life. The Board of Education is always thinking of them, and of GEHR taxpayers. That’s why the Board has proposed bond funding to make improvements with no debt tax increase.
The voters of Greater Egg communities approved the bond referendum to make important school improvements with no debt tax increase. Officials from Atlantic County will certify the election results in the near future. Unofficial reports on Oct. 6 showed 2,030 votes in favor and 1,547 votes opposed.
With these results, the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District can start making more detailed plans to upgrade lighting and sound systems at all three auditoriums; replace some of our gym bleachers and exterior doors; improve athletic facilities to expand their use by students and surrounding communities; and other renovations to maintain the investment in our facilities and the quality of our programs.
Because of special state aid, GEHR capital reserve funds and recent debt payoff, all $21 million worth of improvements can be accomplished with no change to the tax rate.
“We are so thankful for all the residents who came to events where we explained the needs for, and the benefits of, this bond referendum,” said Superintendent James Reina. “We know they take great pride in Oakcrest, Absegami and Cedar Creek High Schools, and we thank everyone for taking the time to express their opinions by voting.”
The Board of Education and the administration will work with financial advisers to secure bond funding and with architects to begin the process of advertising for competitive price bids. Work would be concentrated in the summers of 2023 and 2024 to minimize the disruption of academic or athletic schedules.
A Virtual Town Hall on Sept. 21 gave residents the opportunity to hear from and ask questions of the district's architects, financial adviser and other representatives. The link to the recording is on our FAQs page.
What is a Bond Referendum, and how can it bring $8.9m to GEHR?
"Referendum"' is another word for "vote." A bond referendum asks voters for permission to borrow funds through the sale of bonds. A bond referendum is used specifically for improvements that are large and long-lasting. It cannot be used for daily costs of operations such as paying staff, buying fuel or keeping the lights on.
The operating budget funds our educational program and covers costs of regular maintenance for our three high schools. It is difficult to find room in that budget for large-scale improvements, but there is another compelling reason for this funding method:
If voters approve a bond referendum, a specific type of state aid pays some of the project costs. For GEHR, that aid is expected to be nearly $8.9 million that the district cannot get any other way.
The GEHR Board of Education has a goal of improving the schools with no increase to the property tax rate. How can GEHR meet that goal? Our district is paying off the costs of a previous voter-approved referendum, making this an ideal time to re-invest with no change to the tax rate that currently goes toward school debt payments.
The bond referendum's project list includes investments in all three schools:
• Athletic facilities updates such as improvements to soccer fields, tennis courts, and tracks. That could include new turf fields designed for multiple sports (football, field hockey, soccer, etc.) and new scoreboards at all three schools, as well as sprinkler systems for grass fields at Absegami and Oakcrest.
• New or improved auditorium lighting and sound systems; gym bleachers; and exterior doors, as well as paving and sidewalks.
• At Absegami, this funding would enable the district to remove the temporary trailers replace them with a basketball court. At Cedar Creek, the referendum may include a new field building with a refreshment stand and restrooms. At Oakcrest, the field house would be repaired and upgraded.
what are ouR next steps for continuing student success?
> The Board of Education has taken formal steps to hold a referendum Thursday, Oct. 6 so the public can consider a proposal for improvements within the goal of no tax increase.
> GEHR has embarked on a comprehensive outreach effort to share information and educate its communities about the proposal, including opportunities for Q&A with professionals.
> For this special GEHR bond referendum: Anyone who is registered to vote by Sept. 15 in Egg Harbor City, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township or Mullica Township can cast a ballot.