LRHSD renovations

The Lenape district's website presentation on the bond referendum includes several photos of needed repairs and improvements. The district said the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the district needs an upgrade.

Voters in the Lenape Regional High School District will decide in November's election if the district should be permitted to borrow for capital improvements through a new bond issue.

Board of Education members voted 7-0 at Wednesday evening's meeting to allow the district administration to begin the process to borrow for the district's properties, which include Cherokee High School, Lenape High School, Seneca High School and Shawnee High School.

Because the district is close to paying off past debt, the new borrowing to update and enhance the district's schools would result in a "near-zero property tax increase," Superintendent Carol L. Birnbohm said in a letter to district parents on Thursday morning. The vote is scheduled for November 2.

No details of the capital improvement projects, their total cost or the value of the bond issue in the referendum is available yet, according to the district.

» MORE: The district's presentation on the bond referendum on its website.

The planned referendum comes as the district recently increased the tax levy for the coming school year by an average of 2.13%, ranging from a decrease of 4.18 cents in Tabernacle to an increase of 5.01 cents in Medford Lakes (see list below).

"Our initial analysis included reviewing stakeholder feedback collected during our Community Engagement Series through the strategic planning process and assessing the condition of facilities at our schools," Birnbohm said in the letter. "Those parallel actions have been taking place as the district nears the pay-off point for past debt. Together, these three elements point toward an opportunity to take a fiscally responsible approach to update and enhance our schools."

A web slideshow about the bond reference on the district's website says "general renovations are needed to improve building exteriors and instructional spaces." It also said heating, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems must be upgraded and athletic facilities would benefit from modern LED lighting and additional turf fields.

The district late last month adopted a $158.7 million budget for the coming school year. The budget is up about 2% over this year because of health insurance costs and increased needs for special education programs, according to the district. State aid in the 2021-22 school year will be down about 4% or $1.11 million.

The budget's impact on property taxes, according to the district:

  • Evesham Township – Tax levy increase of 0.02 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $2.71 on a home assessed at the township average of $271,884.
  • Medford Township – Tax levy increase of 1.18 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $39.94 on a home assessed at the township average of $326,586.
  • Medford Lakes Borough - Tax levy increase of 5.01 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $150.68 on a home assessed at the borough average of $288,021.
  • Mount Laurel Township – Tax levy increase of 1.59 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $39.33 on a home assessed at the township average of $237,700.
  • Shamong Township – Tax levy decrease of 0.48 cents, resulting in a decrease in regional school taxes of $11.64 on a home assessed at the township average of $309,233.
  • Southampton Township – Tax levy increase of 2.67 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $52.93 on a home assessed at the township average of $192,493.
  • Tabernacle Township – Tax levy decrease of 4.18 cents, resulting in a decrease in regional school taxes of $97.03 on a home assessed at the township average of $267,131.
  • Woodland Township – Tax levy increase of 3.10 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $70.09 on a home assessed at the township average of $254,800.