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.
- 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.
The Lenape Regional High School District’s four high schools – Lenape, Shawnee, Cherokee, and Seneca – as well as the Sequoia Alternative and Transition to Adulthood Programs, educate approximately 6,900 students from eight communities in Burlington County.
The communities served include Evesham, Medford, Medford Lakes, Mount Laurel, Shamong, Southampton, Tabernacle, and Woodland.
The Lenape Regional District is among the highest-achieving districts in the state, with an average graduation rate of 97.4% and an average combined SAT score of 1139.
A leader in progressive education, the LRHSD’s mission is to develop physically and emotionally healthy students who excel in an ever-changing world.