Voters Approve $67M Lenape Regional High School District Bond Referendum

'Yes' vote gives LRHSD access to $24M in special state aid to make district-wide upgrades at ZERO new costs to taxpayers in the eight Lenape Region communities.

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Voters in the Nov. 2 General Election gave Lenape Regional High School District approval to move forward with a bond-borrowing plan to update and enhance all four district high schools: Lenape, Shawnee, Cherokee and Seneca. The projects included in LRHSD’s bond proposal are estimated to cost $66,628,944. Now that the majority of voters said ‘yes’ to the district’s plans, LRHSD can access $24,431,777 in a special type of state aid, which would reduce the local share to $42,197,167. This state aid is only available to a district that funds capital projects through a voter-approved bond referendum.

The addition of state aid, combined with the pay-off of existing debt from a previous referendum, will enable LRHSD to move forward with the projects with zero change in the tax rates across all eight LRHSD communities: Evesham, Medford, Medford Lakes, Mt. Laurel, Shamong, Southampton, Tabernacle and Woodland.

“I am beyond proud to be part of a school district where community members take the time to understand complex concepts and make sound decisions in support of our students,” said LRHSD Superintendent Carol Birnbohm, Ed.D. “I also appreciate the many exceptional members of our LRHSD staff, especially Connie Stewart, Tony Voiro and Heather Xenakis, who put together such a carefully planned proposal that included so many projects on our must-do list and maximized the amount of state aid we could receive to help offset costs. Because of their diligence, our taxpayers are relieved of any tax increase associated with our planned capital improvements, and our students will benefit from these plans for many years.”


Birnbohm added, “It is inspiring to be part of a district where the community plays a strong role in maintaining the strength of its schools. The overwhelming participation from community members in planning for LRHSD’s future, the many volunteers who helped communicate the details, and voter approval to move forward indicate the special relationship we have and value with those who live in the Lenape Region.”

The planned projects are on the district’s Long-Range Facilities Plan, with priorities identified based on feedback from community members who participated in LRHSD’s 2018 strategic planning process. They include:

· General renovations to improve building exteriors and instructional spaces that are in daily use by all students. 

· Replacement of aging Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, with the addition of air conditioning at all four high schools.

· Enhancement of classroom spaces to create more in-depth Career Pathway programs. Any LRHSD student will be able to attend the automotive program housed at Seneca High School, the carpentry program housed at Cherokee High School, or the welding/metalwork fabrication program housed at Lenape High School.

· Addition of turf fields at Lenape and Seneca to truly level the playing field for LRHSD athletes.

Architects are finalizing plans to bring these projects from concept to reality, so contractors can begin bidding on the work. Looking broadly at the timeline ahead, LRHSD expects to start some work by the end of the 2021-22 school year. The proposed HVAC work, along with the other interior renovations, including electrical and plumbing upgrades, will be timed to avoid disrupting students’ academics. HVAC projects are expected to start in the summer of 2022 and could extend to the 2024-25 school year. Projects that will not interfere with student instruction, like those impacting athletic facilities and HVAC systems for the gyms, will have the most immediate start dates.


The LRHSD community can visit this website using the friendly URL, www.lrhsd.org/ShapingSuccess, to view updated timelines and progress of the projects included in the 2021 bond referendum.

Watch our overview video to see the plan to update & enhance all our high schools!

Bond Referendum Overview.mov

What's Happening Now?

THE ANSWER: EXTENSIVE PLANNING AND PREPARATION BEHIND THE SCENES BEFORE WORK BEGINS


Architects are finalizing plans to bring these projects from concept to reality, so contractors can begin bidding on the work. Looking broadly at the timeline ahead, LRHSD expects to start some work by the end of the 2021-22 school year. The proposed HVAC work, along with the other interior renovations, including electrical and plumbing upgrades, will be timed to avoid disrupting students’ academics. HVAC projects are expected to start in the summer of 2022 and could extend to the 2024-25 school year. Projects that will not interfere with student instruction, like those impacting athletic facilities and HVAC systems for the gyms, will have the most immediate start dates.


For a project schedule and progress updates, please visit the TIMELINE section.

Project List

The PROJECTS section details upgrades and enhancements at each LRHSD school – Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca, and Shawnee. Many of the enhancements support the goal to create equity across all four district high schools, further uniting these schools as one district with a common mission to develop physically and emotionally healthy students who excel in an ever-changing world. The projects are part of the district’s Long-Range Facilities Plan, and many were identified by community members during the 2018 Strategic Planning process as being important for securing the district’s future. Learn more about the steps that LRHSD took to plan these projects in the PROPOSAL section.

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HVAC
SYSTEM UPGRADES

Replacing aging Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems at all four schools is among the most significant projects needed for improved efficiency in terms of maintenance and cost savings over time. Such upgrades enable the addition of air conditioning to benefit all LRHSD students and staff – especially at a time when building temperatures are further impacted by heat-generating computers now in the hands of just about everyone. Overall, climate control also impacts breathability, energy levels, and mental focus – all of which contribute to quality learning environments.

Career Pathway Programs.mov

CAREER PATHWAY PROGRAMS

Another project to support students district-wide is the enhancement of classroom spaces to create more in-depth Career Pathway programs. Any LRHSD student will be able to attend the automotive program housed at Seneca High School, the carpentry program housed at Cherokee High School, and the welding/metalwork fabrication program housed at Lenape High School. These career-focused programs will help students prepare to enter the workforce and assist area businesses with finding skilled, motivated employees to join their teams.

Benefits of Turf Fields.mov

TURF FIELDS AND LED LIGHTING

And, to truly level the playing field for LRHSD student-athletes, turf fields will be installed at Lenape and Seneca; Cherokee and Shawnee already benefit from practicing and playing on turf. The new turf fields will be designed for multi-sport use – giving male and female teams equal access to high-quality playing surfaces. And, community sports organizations will have access to them when not in use by the high schools.

How can LRHSD accomplish its list of projects without adding to taxes?

THE ANSWER: STATE AID!

The State of New Jersey sets aside some of its revenue to help public school districts make capital improvements. That specific kind of aid is only available to districts where voters approved a bond referendum, and only for specific projects that are tied to the educational program. For LRHSD, state aid totals more than $24 million.

For specific funding information, please visit the FINANCES section.

Be In The Know!

Follow our focused @ShapingLRHSD social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to view updated timelines and progress of the projects included in the 2021 bond referendum.