There’s a pretty good chance most of you who live in Toms River, Beachwood, Pine Beach and South Toms River woke up this morning not even aware there is a special election today or if you were aware had no plans to vote.

Considering that many people ignore Election Day in November why would they be motivated to head to the polls on a cold Tuesday in January?

The answer is quite simple.  If you live in those four towns that make up the Toms River Regional School District today is important one, especially for the thousands who have school-age children.  There is a public question on the ballot asking taxpayers to approve a $147 million referendum for renovations, alterations and improvements at all 18 schools that make up one of the state’s largest districts.

That’s a big number which would be reduced to just under $100 million by state funding which we can all agree is still a big number.

 

Based on average home values homeowners in Toms River would pay about $141 a year more in taxes if the referendum was approved. That increase would be $132 in Pine Beach, $96 in Beachwood and $72 in South Toms River.  Clearly that’s an issue for many who live with tight budgets in an already over-taxed state.

Crumbling wall at the Toms River School District's Early Learning Center (Toms River School District)

However this election should be more than just about dollars and cents. it should be about education and I can tell you without a doubt that this referendum is long overdue and badly needed.

Never mind how bad some of the buildings and facilities look on the outside because inside it is ten times worse.  HVAC systems that have students and staff sweating in some months and freezing in others, doors and windows that don’t open and close properly, carpets and ceilings that are decades old, parking lots and driveways badly in need of repairs and repaving, safety and security upgrades.  We are not talking about luxury items here but rather necessities.

Many families whose children have long since graduated moved into the district so they could get a quality education and those with children in the district now should expect the same.  Just as important is that those who want their property values to increase should know that schools are often one of the top reasons that attract people to an area. It’s also why they leave.

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and I strongly endorse the passing of this referendum.  My children have already gone through the school district and had great experiences. Others deserve the same.