Last Long Beach Island School Board Meeting Before Referendum Is Sept. 19

Sep 13, 2017

Next Tuesday, Sept. 19, is the last public meeting of the Long Beach Island School Board prior to the district’s consolidation referendum on Sept. 26. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Ethel A. Jacobsen Elementary School in Surf City.

Board President James Donahower encourages residents to attend the meeting and “feel free to ask any questions you may have.” (See related letter to the editor.)

On the 26th, taxpayers in the school district’s five sending municipalities – Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City – will be asked to vote on a two-question, $18.4 million bond referendum. A sample ballot for the special election is available on the website of the Ocean County Clerk’s Office, at clerk.co.ocean.nj.us.

“A positive outcome of the vote will fund an addition and renovations to the Ethel A. Jacobsen Elementary School to accommodate all of the district’s approximately 230 students,” district liaison Laura Bishop explained earlier this summer. “The Long Beach Island Grade School (in Ship Bottom), which also serves the district, will be closed.”

Question 1 of the referendum, for $14.6 million, funds the expansion of the E.J. School: eight new classrooms, including a science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) lab; an art room; student services offices; and a gymnasium.

Question 2 – $3.8 million – funds improvements to the buildings.

Question 1 must pass for the district to move ahead with the renovations comprised in Question 2.

If both questions are approved, the average annual tax impact on a home assessed at $600,000 would be $55 more per year. If just Question 1 passes, the tax impact would be $43 more per year. This does not include cost reductions from the sale of the LBI School, debt service aid and annual savings from the consolidation. As Bishop pointed out, the district is eligible for $1.6 million in debt service aid, but only if Question 2 is approved.

The board has discussed moving into one school since 2010. As district Superintendent Peter J. Kopack explained, “The board voted to consolidate into one building to enable us to continue to provide an outstanding education for our students, and maintain facilities within a fiscally responsible budget.”

If the referendum passes, said Bishop, construction on E.J. is likely to begin in 2018, “with an approximate move-in date for the addition of December 2019/January 2020.” The district anticipates renovations would be completed during summer 2020.

There is not yet a timeline for the closing of the LBI School, but Kopack said it would remain open through this 2017-2018 school year.

For more information on the proposed referendum, visit lbischools.org.  —J.K.-H.

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