Deptford voters reject school bond referendum - for a second time

For the second time, Deptford Township voters have overwhelmingly rejected a school bond referendum proposal that would have raised property taxes to renovate schools.

By a 1,633-to-731 margin, voters on Tuesday turned down a proposed $34.4 million "Building Spartan Pride" bond. The proposal was scaled down from a $97 million bond that was rejected in March.

"We'll go back to the drawing board. We'll figure it out from there," Superintendent Charles R. Ford Jr. said Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Gloucester County, voters in Harrison Township approved a $5.3 million construction bond to repair the roof on the elementary school.

Those were the only districts in South Jersey that asked voters to approve a school bond Tuesday.

Across the state, voters in 11 districts in eight counties considered school construction and renovation projects totaling $160 million. Some qualify for state funding to cover some of the costs.

In Morris County, voters in Mount Olive rejected two questions totaling about $7.4 million that would have allowed the district to offer full-day kindergarten.

School boards may propose a bond issue or special question to voters five times a year. The next dates available for special elections are in November and December.

Ford said he was uncertain whether Deptford would seek voter approval again for the bond. The district made nearly three dozen presentations to residents on the last proposal, he said.

The referendum was requested for additional funding for an addition to Monongahela Middle School that would have included 16 classrooms, two science labs, a teacher work room, a music room, more parking spaces, and a gymnasium. Renovations would have been made to the cafeteria, labs, the main office, and the nurse's office.

Deptford High School also would have undergone renovations to convert classrooms and improve science labs.

If the proposal had been approved, the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $178,995 would have paid $90.77 more a year in taxes.

"We can only control our efforts, not the outcome. We pushed as hard as we could," Ford said. "I did everything I could to sell it."

mburney@phillynews.com

856-779-3814 @mlburney