The Rebuilding Our Schools Initiative and the $147 million referendum proposed by Toms River Regional Schools was approved yesterday by voters from Toms River, South Toms River, Pine Beach, and Beachwood, with a final tally of 7,513 “yes” votes (58.26 percent) to 5,383 “no,” a difference of 2,130 votes.
“This is nothing short of a historic day for this school district and the greater Toms River Regional community,” said Superintendent David Healy. “From beginning to end-- from the 2013 community survey that highlighted facilities issues to the years of work putting this proposal together to today-- this has been about one thing and one thing only: securing a bright future for Toms River students and the educators and staff who make up this amazing school district. I am indescribably proud and grateful that this community came out and made their voices heard, loud and clear.”
The Rebuilding Our Schools Initiative designed by district leaders and supported by the school board began with a comprehensive facilities assessment that revealed some $165 million in necessary repairs and upgrades for the district’s 23 buildings. In 2017 the district joined the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP), a cost-neutral project which has already begun and which will cover $17.8 million in upgrades with no tax impact. As part of the proposal, and provided it was approved by voters, the state will cover an additional $47 million.
“The approval of this referendum proposal for the repair and betterment of our schools will have a long-lasting impact on the district and the community,” said Business Administrator William Doering. “Toms River Regional district voters made a decision on January 22nd, and it was an emphatic one. It feels like everyone is really coming together to ensure that the schools remain a cornerstone of our regional community.”
“I reserve my most heartfelt thanks to the voters of this community, who made education a priority and who have helped secure the future of this district and all of Toms River. Thank you for your trust and faith in us, and rest assured we will not let you down.” -Superintendent David Healy
The full list of projects the referendum will address are available on this district’s Rebuilding Our Schools Initiative webpage. While posting comprehensive information to its site-- including a tax calculator and presentation slides-- district leaders made extensive efforts to relay facts about the referendum, including 22 public meetings at school sites; radio show appearances; a Facebook Live event hosted by Toms River Patch; and helping to orchestrate a series of informative videos produced by TRSTV featuring students and famous graduates like Todd Frazier and Frankie Edgar.
“With all of the emotion invested in this effort, I’m left now with only an extreme sense of gratitude,” said Healy. “Thank you to our dedicated school board, our relentless administrative team, and our vocal public supporters. And I reserve my most heartfelt thanks to the voters of this community, who made education a priority and who have helped secure the future of this district and all of Toms River. Not only that, but their votes are a reflection of faith and trust in our administration and school board, and that is something we do not take for granted. Thank you, Toms River, for your trust and faith in us, and rest assured we will not let you down.”
School board members, district leaders and administrators, and a handful of vocal supporters convened at Linda’s Pizza in Toms River last night to monitor voting results. Arranged by Board President Joseph Nardini, the get together was ultimately cause for celebration when the results became official before 10 p.m.
“We’ve been preaching unity for Toms River, and being able to share this moment as a team was very special, and a microcosm of our vision for this community moving forward,” said Nardini. “This referendum being approved is indeed cause for celebration, and I’m confident that the results of this referendum are going to bring us even closer together as a district and a community. We should all be proud.”
The district will continue to update its progress on various projects through the Rebuilding Our Schools Initiative webpage and through other communication channels. A dedicated email, firstname.lastname@example.org, remains active for any residents with additional questions about the referendum and its associated projects.