SOMERSET HILLS, NJ - The polls are open in the Somerset Hills, and the ballot contains something that is new to most Somerset Hills voters. School board elections have been moved to November to coincide with the general election. Today, voters in the district at large will vote on a public question. Voters in Peapack-Gladstone will choose between two candidates for one of the borough's representatives on the regional school board.

The referendum on the ballot asks the voters to authorize borrowing and spending for some of the renovation and upgrades to some of the school district's facilities. Those improvements include upgrades for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, renovations at Bernards High School to convert the former auditorium to a library/media center, and conversion of the current library/media center to special and general classrooms.

The board has estimated the total cost of the project to be $5,829,094.  Sixty per cent of the project will be funded by the school district, with the state picking up forty per cent of the cost, or $2,331,637.

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There is one contested race for a three-year term on the board to represent Peapack-Gladstone.  That race pits incumbent Deborah Hawkins against newcomer Mindy Hoppe.  A Tiger Hill resident, Hawkins is a long-time member of the board.  Hoppe is an educator.  She is married to Bernards High Vice Principal Michael Hoppe.

The polls will remain open until 8:00 PM.