Absecon school officials are hoping that a leaky roof and almost $2.1 million in state aid will convince voters to approve $5.2 million in repairs to the Emma C. Attales and H. Ashton Marsh schools in a bond referendum vote March 11.

Voters are being asked to approve borrowing $3.1 million toward the project.

The proposed work will include a new roof for the Attales school, and a section of new roof at the Marsh School. Both school gyms will get new lighting, as will all Marsh School classrooms, and the Attales art room, computer lab and offices. Exterior lighting will be added.

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The boys and girls bathrooms outside of the Attales gym and the fifth and sixth grade hallways will be renovated. The floors will be refinished in both school gyms; fire alarms will be updated; and heat pumps will be replaced in seven Attales classrooms.

In 2012 voters rejected a $2.7 million bond referendum to do some of the work, including the bathrooms and lighting, but at that time there was no state aid. The addition of the debt service aid from the state also would allow the district to do more work.

Superintendent James Giaquinto said the roofs already are four years past their warranty and have been leaking. He said this winter has been especially hard on them.

“It’s gotten a lot worse,” he said. A powerpoint presentation posted on the district website shows buckets and trash cans set up to catch water from the leaks.

The bond is expected to cost taxpayers between $35 and $38 per year per $100,000 of assessed value based on a 17-year payout and an interest rate of 3,75 percent.

School Board President William A. Thompson III said in a statement that now is the ideal time to go out for a bond referendum. The project will get 40 percent of the funds from the state, and interest rates remain low for bonds.

He said the energy efficiency of the new lighting is also expected to match the output of new solar panels so that almost all of the school’s electricity needs will be met by the solar field.

“This project will not only benefit the school but the complex serves the needs of the community as well through the gymnasiums, auditorium, stage facilities and other areas used by various groups and organizations throughout the community,” Thompson said.

Voting will be held from 1-9 p.m. March 11 at the the Absecon Presbyterian Church, 208 New Jersey Avenue.

Contact Diane D'Amico:


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Worked as a reporter for various weekly newspapers in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties before joining The Press many moons (and editors) ago as a business copy editor. Passionate about journalism, averse to serial commas.

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