Toms River Works On ‘Rebuilding Our Schools’

Toms River school officials held public meetings about the referendum in the spring. This one was in Beachwood Elementary. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

TOMS RIVER – The Toms River Regional School District’s Rebuild Our Schools Initiative is finally taking shape, following a recent administration meeting.

The meeting brought together members of the district and the district’s engineering and consulting design firm in order to finalize the project, which will bring security upgrades and air conditioning to classrooms.

Every classroom in each of the 18 buildings in the district will see these upgrades, according to the report presented by board vice president and Building and Grounds Committee Chair Joe Nardini.

It took months of refining, 19 public meetings, and lots of feedback from the public to hone the project from what was originally a $164-plus-million project to what is now a $147-million report. The original plan was not only more costly, but didn’t account for some $30 million in additions including air conditioning in every classroom, playgrounds, security enhancements, and paving. The final plan is less expensive, and also includes each of those essential upgrades.

“Through our series of community meetings and the invaluable input we received from our families and residents, we’ve been able to narrow the scope of the plan to focus on essential projects, and at the least possible impact to taxpayers,” said Superintendent David Healy. “This is an initiative that’s been years in the making.

Nearly $18 million in project upgrades will also be implemented at a net-zero cost due to the district’s enrollment in the self-funding Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) starting this month, according to the district.

Photo by Chris Lundy

The proposal for these upgrades will be finalized by the district and then sent to the New Jersey Department of Education by the end of July.

“The final project list serves as an example of our district and school board listening to our community, acting on their concerns, and including them in the process throughout,” he added.

After a seven month district-wide facilities assessment by Maser Consulting, the district and board were able to develop what facilities needed attention.

“The report we’ve put together includes projects specific to each of our 18 schools and five out buildings, and we simply could not have cultivated this list without the feedback of parents and community members,” said Board President Russell Corby. “We will continue to engage our community and keep them informed in the weeks and months ahead.”

You will be able to find the full proposal on the Rebuilding Our Schools webpage prior to its official submission. The school board will be scheduling subsequent public meetings with details forthcoming.