It’s not often that New Jersey taxpayers have the chance to get a return on the money they send to the Statehouse in Trenton. One of the few opportunities to do so, exists when a school district proposes a capital referendum and the state pledges partial reimbursement if voters approve it.

That’s the situation in the Watchung Hills Regional High School school district. The high school’s board has put forward a nearly $8 million referendum. It goes before voters in Watchung, as well as Warren and Long Hill townships, on Thursday, Oct. 6.

We urge voters in those towns to approve the capital plan and basically get a discount on the needed improvements.

The regional board’s referendum includes funds for alterations to the STEAM and robotics lab, relocation and expansion of the nurse’s office, renovations to the ceramics and photography lab, improvements to locker room 5/6 and the trainer’s room, upgrades to the south cafeteria lounge, enhancements to the occupational and physical therapy rooms, replacements of chillers, and upgrades to the performing arts center LED lighting.

The state would fund about $3 million worth of the work through debt service aid, The regional district’s portion would be paid from capital reserves, meaning cash already on hand. There would be no additional tax increase needed to pay for the work if the referendum is approved.

If defeated, the state’s commitment for a portion would be lost. The regional board would be faced with deciding which projects to move forward with local taxpayers picking up the entire tab.

We urge voters in Watchung, Warren and Long Hill to approve the referendum and gain state funding for a portion of the high school work. Vote “yes” on the Watchung Hills Board of Education’s capital projects referendum on Thursday, Oct. 6.