Numbers Don’t Add Up
To the Editor:
The more I research the actions of the board of education for Long Beach Island Consolidated, the more concerned I have become. I attended the Dec. 2, 2015 presentation at the board meeting when the plan for consolidation and addition to the E.J. School was first presented, explaining the educational and financial benefits of a one-school district. That meeting outlined preliminary plans for additions to each school as options along with cost analysis for each scenario. Revisiting that presentation, one would see that not only was the presentation heavily weighted toward adding on to the E.J. School, but most importantly, the numbers just don’t add up.
We are now at a point where the borough of Ship Bottom is poised to make a presentation to the BOE to purchase the LBI facility. The board has granted Ship Bottom time to do due diligence and come to the board on Sept. 20. If the offer is not accepted then other options can be considered. And here is the rub. In December it was estimated that sale of the LBI property was $2.5 million but an addition would cost $8.2 million including necessary repairs. An addition to E.J. School was estimated to be $9.1 million with retrofits at an additional $1.7 million, if I am reading the numbers correctly.
Now the current appraisal for LBI has been presented to the public with a fair market value of $5.1 million and $1.9 million added for teardown and prep for new buildings. That is a far distance from the $9 million to $10 million the board hoped to sell for when it made the decision to consolidate to a one-school facility and sell to the highest bidder. Add the issue of a tidelands claim from the state of New Jersey and the value of the property is reduced further.
At that December 2015 meeting hard costs as presented by Owen Little stated that repairs to LBI would be $3.9 million including the bus garage. Repairs to EJ were presented at $1.1 million.
So what to do? There was a vote to go out for referendum for $16 million next March to consolidate, add on to EJ and transition to a one-school district. These are big numbers, and the tax impact will be felt by all who pay taxes here.
Again, I urge the residents of LBI to come to the meetings (the next is on Sept. 23) and voice their opinion. Ask questions. Vote your conscience.
The writer is running for the Barnegat Light seat on the Long Beach Island Board of Education.