To the Editor:
The proposed school consolidation has been a very confusing and ever-changing issue. Mayor Hodgson and the Surf City Council have supported keeping both schools, doing necessary repairs and updates (that do not include updates in preparation for the addition at EJ). I have to wonder why no investigation of repair costs has been pursued. The proposal on the table for referendum is around $16 million. Very broad-brush estimates for the alternative repairs were once quoted at around $8 million. But we do not know enough.
When the school board was asked what would happen if the referendum failed, the response was that they would deal with that if and when that occurred. Why not begin now to research the real cost of repairing the two buildings and keeping both schools open? Right now the public cannot compare alternatives.
While the community waits to see what happens, are there plans to upgrade the LBI School so it can be best used by the students no matter what? One person from Ship Bottom noted that the playground was in disrepair. Are there plans to correct that for the short term? What conditions on the interior need attention?
As to the tax ramifications, it was stated that the worst-case tax bite would be around $51 per household assessed at $600,000, the average. Well, there are a great number of taxpayers whose assessment is double that or more. And this increase is in perpetuity, not a one-time hit.
I encourage the voters on LBI to get involved, attend meetings and vote their conscience.
The writer is running for the Barnegat Light seat on the Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education.