LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Voters on Tuesday approved all three bond questions for $53.6 million in repairs and upgrades to Pinelands Regional High School and Junior High School.

Voters had rejected all three in November, and school officials thanked voters for recognizing the work really was needed.

Nine classrooms in a wing at the high school have been blocked off for a year since structural damage was found that forced the closing of the stairwell in that wing, creating a safety hazard. Roofs in both buildings are also leaking.

“Pinelands Regional Junior and Senior High Schools are in critical need of the repairs and upgrades outlined in the three questions of the referendum,” interim Superintendent Maryann Banks said in a statement. “District administration and the Board of Education are pleased that the members of the communities served by the Pinelands Regional School District acknowledged the extreme importance of the referendum and recognized it as an investment in our students and their future, and that of our communities.”

Voters are from the participating districts of Bass River, Eagleswood and Little Egg Harbor townships and Tuckerton.

Voters approved the first question by a vote of 2,131 to 1,575. That question was the largest, costing $46.8 million, and included most of the structural repairs.

The second question passed by a vote of 2,015 to 1,659. The third question passed by a vote of 1,959 to 1,717.

The district is eligible to receive up to 40 percent in state funding for the first two questions and 19 percent in state aid for the third question. The average annual property-tax impact for the first question is less than $100 a year for the average assessed home in all of the four communities. The property-tax impact for Questions 2 and 3 should add no more than $22 per year, depending on the community.

“We never want to impose an additional tax burden on the community,” Stephen Brennan, Pinelands Regional business administrator/board secretary said in a statement. “By approving the referendum now, when we are retiring other debt and have the opportunity to take advantage of state funding, we are saving taxpayers money in the long run.”

The district plans to begin some of the repair work immediately with an ultimate completion date for all projects in fall or winter 2018.

“The district is grateful to the citizens of Bass River, Eagleswood, Little Egg Harbor and Tuckerton for approving the referendum,” school board President Susan M. Ernest said in a statement. “Their generosity will enable not only our current students but future Wildcats to take advantage of the educational experiences that will help them develop into well-rounded, productive citizens. So, on their behalf, thank you!”

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