On Dec. 10, Moorestown residents were asked to vote on a proposed $22.6 million bond referendum and the unofficial results indicate that the majority were not in favor of it. According to the Burlington County Board of Elections’s unofficial results, the referendum failed to pass.
Proposal No. 1 asked voters to approve $22.6 million in renovations, alterations and repairs to all of the buildings in the district. Proposal No. 2 asked for an additional $3.5 million in renovations, alterations and improvements to Moorestown High School, William Allen Middle School and the administration building. Proposal one received 1,185 “yes” votes and 1,574 “no” votes. Proposal two received 1,190 “yes” votes and 1,559 “no” votes.
Superintendent Scott McCartney thanked the Moorestown community for engaging in the referendum process and exercising its right to vote.
“We firmly believe this referendum was a cost effective and efficient way to address a multitude of challenges in our district,” McCartney said. “While disappointed, we respect the outcome of the election. We will continue to serve you, our students and our staff in the best way possible.”
Mark Villanueva, the only board of education member vocally opposed to the referendum, said he was enthused to see so many in the community were engaged in voting.
“Moorestown has signaled an interest in a more thoughtful, transparent process,” Villanueva said. “Together with the community, the board now has the opportunity to do just that, and I am excited to join this commitment.”
Proposal No. 1 would have constituted a local tax impact of around $133 for the average assessed home valued at $454,032. If approved, the second proposal would have added a local tax impact of $27.02 per year on top of the $133. However, the second bond proposal would only go into effect if the first proposal was approved. Given the first proposal failed, the second proposal automatically failed as well.
Under question No. 1, the proposed work at each of the elementary schools was largely the same with each getting interior renovations, HVAC construction and electrical work.
Moorestown High School would have received similar updates, but Burlington County has also mandated that the next time the district does any construction work at MHS, Bridgeboro Road’s walkways must be made ADA compliant. For that reason, the district would have had to build an eight-foot-wide path to bring the road up to code that will come at an estimated $1.2 million cost to taxpayers.
William Allen Middle School would have received the most work with the potential addition of 10 classrooms to accommodate moving third grade from the local elementary schools into WAMS.
Proposal No. 2 would have financed the replacement of the 1970s lockers at WAMS, a full-sized gym addition at WAMS, a MAC parking lot extension at MHS and interior renovations at the Central Administration Building.
McCartney said the district plans to solicit feedback about the vote, and he’ll be meeting with the district’s professionals, board leadership and administrative staff to debrief and to consider their options moving forward.
“What we have said repeatedly throughout this process is that the annual budget does not leave room for solving the problems and scope identified in this referendum,” McCartney said. “My job in the past, the present and the future is to identify needs, work with our professionals, my administration and staff to consider options and present them to our board of education.”
Ultimately, it’s up to the board of education to decide if the district puts forth another referendum, McCartney said.