Voters in three cities on Tuesday approved a $44.4 million referendum to upgrade the two “ruined” high schools in the Hanover Park School Regional School District.
But Dover voters overwhelmingly rejected a $69.3 million referendum to expand the high school and build a second middle school in the crowded neighborhood.
Unofficial results from the Morris County Board of Elections show the Hanover Park referendum passed by 1,493 (55.5%) to 1,179 (43.8%). The district serves high school students from Hanover, who attend Whippany Park High School and students from East Hanover and Florham Park, who attend Hanover Park High School.
The district “anticipates that we now have the funds to make much-needed improvements to our two high schools,” Superintendent Maria Carrell said after the vote. “Over the next few months, we will be working closely with our district professionals to begin the first phase of this project as soon as possible.”
Dover voters reject referendum and tax hike
But in Dover and nearby tiny Victory Gardens, district officials watched voters reject a referendum that would have raised taxes by $611 a year for homeowners in the former and $579 for those in the latter. The expansion, officials said, was necessary in a district that has 700 overcapacity and rising students, according to a report from the New Jersey Department of Education.
“Over the past two years, our student enrollment has steadily increased,” the district wrote on a website touting the referendum. “Our schools have been overcapacity for decades. Generations of residents have stepped up to make long-term investments in Dover Public Schools. The community is encouraged to consider whether to do the same again.”
The community rejected the referendum by more than 72% (1,022 to 374).
“The need for a new school to be built in Dover cannot be denied,” said Dover Board of Education chairwoman Dr Krista Seanor after the vote. “This election result does not change that fact. I am devastated by the reality of the overpopulation and underfunding that our children must now continue to endure.”
“We all thank [voters] who participated and will discuss with the community plans for the future of our schools,” the district said. “Assessing community feedback will be the first step in this process.
District officials hoped to build a new middle school between the high school and North Dover Elementary School, where tennis courts are now located.
“A new middle school and expanded high school will provide space to spread our students, leaving plenty of room for elementary school students,” they wrote.
In the Hanover Park neighborhood, infrastructure at both high schools “is original to the buildings,” district officials said. website. Hanover Park opened in 1956. Whippany Park opened in 1967.
“Repairs have become costly and sometimes prohibitively expensive,” the district wrote. “We have now reached the point where we need to invest a significant amount of money to make the necessary improvements. This investment should mitigate future costs to the district and its ratepayers.”