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Report: High School Switch Would Bring Tax Savings to Lakehurst, Potential Hike to Manchester

Study, which says Lakehurst students would have more educational opportunities, now available on Lakehurst Board of Education website

Lakehurst students would have a selection of more courses and co-curricular activities and taxpayers would see a "significant" savings should the borough's Board of Education decide to send its high school students to Jackson rather than Manchester, according to a recently released feasibility report.

The 52-page report, prepared by Puleio and Strimple Associates and JP Savedoff and Associates, was released on the Lakehurst Board of Education website Monday morning and outlines the impact to Lakehurst, Jackson and Manchester should borough students change schools. 

The report estimates that over five years Lakehurst would pay Jackson $2,078,170 less in tuition compared to Manchester.

If the switch were to happen, Lakehurst, which typically sends about 150 high school students to Manchester, would save $415,634 per year. That would reduce taxes $0.17 per $100 of assessed valuation, according to the report.

Manchester schools would face an additional cost of $2,181,062 per year, an increase of $0.053 per $100 of assessed valuation, according to the report.

"If the (Manchester) district were to try to make up this lost revenue, and if the tax levy needed to recoup the lost revenue was beyond the 2 percent cap levy tax limit they would have to either make budget cuts or seek approval of a second question on a November ballot," the report states.

The study was initiated months back by school administrators in the borough to determine if those students could receive more opportunities at Jackson Liberty High School while potentially saving taxpayers money. A presentation outlining the findings will be given during the board's Tuesday meeting, 7:30 p.m. at the Lakehurst Elementary School gym. Members of the public will be able to offer comment at that time.

Lakehurst Superintendent of Schools Jill Dobrowansky declined to comment on the findings of the study Monday morning, citing her desire to wait until the board presentation is made Tuesday.

A call to Manchester Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway requesting comment Monday morning was not immediately returned. Administrators in Manchester, including Trethaway, have repeatedly said that Lakehurst students are closely linked to their Manchester counterparts and they would like them to remain in the district.

Last month, Lakehurst board members approved a motion to switch their liaison to Manchester Schools from Board President JoAnn Septor to Vice President Kevin Oliver after claiming that Manchester was trying to "strong-arm" the district. Trethaway said that Manchester willingly participated with the study.

The study finds that both Manchester Township and Jackson Liberty high schools are "comprehensive" and give students "a broad offering of programs and co-curricular activities." Jackson, however, has nine more Advanced Placement courses compared to Manchester and offers more freshman-level athletics.

"Lakehurst students attending Jackson Liberty High School would experience a broader offering of courses and co-curricular opportunities," the report states.

Both schools "compare favorably" with their district factor groups on the HSPA and SAT tests.

"Manchester exceeded DFG in all three SAT categories, while Jackson Liberty exceeds DFG in Verbal and Essay," the study states. "Both high schools have an almost identical percentage of students scoring Proficient and Advanced Proficient on the mathematics and literacy portions of the HSPA. Neither high school exceeds the state averages on the HSPA or the SAT."  

Both schools have a "low number" of incidents of violence and vandalism and provide students with a safe environment, according to the report. 

The report concludes by stating that, should the switch occur, Manchester would be able to continue the educational programs it currently provides and Jackson would be able to absorb the approximately 150 Lakehurst students without impact to education quality. 

"Lakehurst students attending Jackson Liberty High School would experience a broader offering of courses and co-curricular opportunities," the report states.

In addition to Tuesday's meeting, Lakehurst Board of Education members are expected to hear more public comment at their November meeting, Dobrowansky said. The board must make their decision before the year's end. The board would then apply for approval from the Commissioner of Education, though Manchester could appeal the switch with the Department of Education. 

careless fills October 16, 2012 at 10:50 AM
does anyone remember the days when students from both jackson and manchester all went to lakewood hs?
Michele Dimeo October 16, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Lakehurst Resident, Are you for paying extra money for lunch, sports and other things like gas when you need to pick your sick child up from school. So after paying for all these extras how much are really saving on your "tax Bill". I've also been hearing that this school is an over flow from other towns as well and the area around it is less desirable.
Lakehurst Resident October 16, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Michele Dimeo~ Jackson Liberty is brand new; where does it say it's an overflow school? According to the report, our students would meld right into the fabric of the school. Extra gasoline costs? Um, more AP courses, athletics, better facilities and more highly qualified teachers- who wouldn't spend the extra gas for their kids on that trade-off? Status quo must be challenged and with NJ School choice, be glad they're not suggesting rekindling our relationship with Central Regional!!
Michele Dimeo October 16, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Lakehurst resident, I don't have to be glad with any suggestions the school or town makes. I can make the choices for my own children. There are many parents that do not agree with this and there are many that do. It's an opinion that everyone can have. Once all the facts come out good and bad a decision will have to be made. If there are extra charges for sports and lunch I do not agree with that. But that's my choice. As for more AP classes I do agree its helpful for the children, but if the children aren't taking advantage of the ones at Manchester what would be the difference. For my own reasons I'm not for it at this point unless the facts are placed out on the table.
super user October 17, 2012 at 11:57 PM
If you attended the meeting this not about the children but about money. Which is questionable about any savings.

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