UPPER TOWNSHIP — Voters will decide in January whether to make $16 million in repairs to the primary and middle schools.

The Board of Education will conduct a bond referendum Jan. 24 with two public questions addressing the needs for each school. As with the last proposal, the state will pay 40 percent of the project’s costs if voters agree to the remainder.

Voters rejected a similar referendum 1,076 to 713 in April to repair the primary and middle schools. The new referendum is similar but has been modified to divide the project into two questions, architect Robert Garrison said.

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Public Question 1 asks voters to pay $7.5 million along with the state’s $5 million to replace roof drains, ceiling tiles, corridor lights and heating and cooling systems in the primary school, among dozens of other repairs.

That question also would replace portions of the roof and exterior doors and windows in the middle school.

Public Question 2 asks voters to pay $2 million along with the state’s $1.4 million to renovate locker rooms and bathrooms and replace kitchen equipment in the middle school and remove an underground storage tank and replace the windows at the primary school, among many other repairs.

Mayor Richard Palombo said he supports the referendum.

”Based on what I’ve seen, I’d like to see the repairs done,” the mayor said. “I’m leaning on ensuring the buildings are maintained. I think it will cost more in the long term if they’re not.”

Palombo said the district broke the referendum into two parts in hopes of persuading voters to approve the most badly needed items in Question 1.

The items on Question 2 are badly needed, he said, but not dire like some of the other repairs.

The township provided an estimated $300,000 in work this year for the district’s schools in collaboration with the Board of Education. 

“A lot of it was interior carpentry and room-fitting,” township engineer Paul Dietrich said. “They remodeled a couple bathrooms and replaced some temporary partitions with permanent walls to make rooms more soundproof and provide a better learning environment.”

Dietrich said township employees held off on weatherproofing of doors and windows given that the upcoming referendum calls for replacing them.

Palombo said the township has promised additional help where possible.

“We are committed to doing whatever we can to offset those costs and save taxpayers money,” he said.

Question 1 would add 2.5 cents to the township’s tax rate at a cost of about $85 per year for the owner of a home priced at the township median of $340,000. Question 2 would add 0.7 cents to the township’s tax rate at a cost of about $24 per year.

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