Not Convinced

Sep 13, 2017

To the Editor:

I have done much research on the LBI school referendum and the school board has not convinced me of the need for a new addition to the E.J. School.

First of all, this is not an addition to E.J. but rather a duplication of a school that is merely blocks away. There would be classrooms and a gymnasium built equaling those at the LBI School in Ship Bottom. The new building would be joined to E.J. by a hallway. It would be still just a separate stand-alone building.

In December 2014, the board presented options to the public for improvements to both schools. The improvements to the E.J. School were detailed and elaborate. The sketches for improvements to the LBI School were crude and less thought-out. It was evident that the board’s point of view was slanted toward the E.J School.

What was not factored in is Superstorm Sandy of 2012 and the millions of federal dollars pumped into the LBI School in the form of a new roof, a new heating and ventilation system and other necessary repairs. The public is being asked to make many of these improvements in the second part of the referendum for the E.J. School.

I have visited the LBI School and it is far from the crumbling, broken-down school I was initially led to believe it to be. Are both schools in need of improvement? Yes. To the tune of $18.5 mil? No!

In light of the fed’s money, I questioned the board on the need to build a new school and change the local school tax. Their reply was that it is fiscally responsible to operate only one building and it would save the public money. I’m a little leery when somebody tells me that I am going to save money but then tells me that my taxes are going up about $55 a year on a house valued at $600,000. (Whose house is valued at $600K on this Island?)

Also said was that we need to direct the money to the students and can’t make the improvements to the buildings living within a 2 percent budget increase. Well, sorry. These budget caps were put into place because we have lived in a state with runaway taxes and school budgets.

At the end of June, the school population was 223 students. Of that number, 41 are choice students. A choice student is a student paid for by the state to fill an empty seat and help pay for the budget. A true consolidation of schools would phase out the choice students. Let’s educate our own Island students, trimming the school population down to about 180 to 185 students. Then let’s house “our” students in either the existing E.J. or LBI school. This is already planned for the 2018-2019 school year. (Now that would be a real savings!)

The referendum proposes to build a school that could house 350 to 400 students. Granted, some new classrooms are mandated by the state, but a school this big is not what this Island needs.

Whether you are a voting resident or not, please come to the school board meeting Sept. 19, 7 p.m., and voice your opinion. Become informed. This referendum affects every taxpayer in the LBI consolidated schools community.

Ron Craft

Ship Bottom


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