Education Commissioner Assures Sea Bright On K-8 Funding
By Ryan Fennell
SEA BRIGHT - The new K-8 district that replaces the former Sea Bright School District should have a "neutral" impact on taxpayers, State Education Commissioner Lucille Davy assured member of the governing body in response to a letter the borough sent to the state regarding the funding formula for the new district.
As of July 1, 2009, the Sea Bright Board of Education was eliminated as part of a statewide movement to eliminate non-operating school districts.
As a result the Borough of Sea Bright and the Borough of Oceanport have combined to form a new K-8 school district.
The main concern for the Sea Bright Council as well as Sea Bright residents was how the new district would be funded.
Currently, Sea Bright as well as Oceanport and West Long Branch are part of the Shore Regional School District.
The regional school district funding is primarily based on land valuation.
The new K-8 district is currently funded based on 98 percent enrollment and two percent land valuation.
The fear of the Sea Bright Council was that the new district would ultimately reverse and fall in line with the regional school funding formula in future years, which would have a significant impact on Sea Bright taxpayers.
"The projections we have if they decide to charge us on formula for all of our children based on land value is our tax levy would go from $900,000 to $3.4 million," Councilwoman Dina Long said at the time of the merger.
The council sent a letter to the Executive County Superintendent Carole Morris asking that the borough's concerns be taken into consideration.
"Our main concern was how the funding would be allocated," Mayor Maria Fernandes said. "We've been burned in the past with Shore Regional funding so we wanted to make sure the same thing does not happen again."
The Borough received a written response from Davy addressing the borough's concerns.
"The methodology used for the combination of equalized value and enrollment should see a neutral tax impact for Sea Bright and Oceanport taxpayers," the letter states. "That methodology will continue as the basis in the new district for the duration of the Sea Bright - Oceanport K-8."
"That is certainly good news," Fernandes said.
For the current school year, Sea Bright will retain one seat on the new Oceanport Board of Education.
However, at the end of the current term an election will be held and all candidates will be elected at-large. Sea Bright will no longer have a guaranteed seat on the Oceanport Board of Education.