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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. 

CM October 15, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Less students, less transportation, less teachers and administrators = higher costs. That's Manchester for ya!
Scott Neuman October 15, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Nice for the kids of Lakehurst to lose an additional 156 hours per year in travel time.
Sketch October 15, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Which district is going to provide the transportation?
WhitingBoy October 15, 2012 at 07:32 PM
The people of Lakehurst have to do what is in their best interest. The Manchester Board of Ed has to turn on the sales pitch now...for all the money that is spent, our argument better not be "don't go because it will cost us too much". We better be able to defend the status quo. If we can't lay out a $14K argument, then it is our fault. Further, if our BOE can’t explain to 150 students and their families (and Lakehurst taxpayers) why it is worth more money to go to school in Manchester, maybe we need to ask ourselves the same question. Why does it cost more to go to school in Manchester, when according to the report it is the same education or better in Jackson? Get going BOE, sell what you are offering to Lakehurst…and to the Manchester taxpayers. You now have the floor and have to explain why it is 23% more costly to go to school in Manchester than Jackson and get the same (or better) results.
WhitingBoy October 15, 2012 at 07:32 PM
@Scott Neuman…additional time is absolutely worth it if it truly is a better education at a 23% savings. The argument has to be why it is better (not closer, or because it will hurt Manchester taxpayers). I really do hope the Manchester BOE sells us and them on why to stay. I want to know my tax dollars are not being wasted.
Da Gr8 1 October 15, 2012 at 07:53 PM
taxes are high enough. you cant get blood from a stone. if manchester loses 150 students then there is no need for extra teachers. we could drop an administratior like trethaway or baxter also. thats where the savings should be.
Irina October 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Check your math again Scott. How do they lose additional travel time when the Manchester HS is about a mile away from downtown Lakehurst and the Jackson HS is about 25 miles away? Does the freeholder job require you to know how to use a calculator? I hope not.
We Own The Night October 16, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Nice for the kids of Lakehurst to be short changed on an education this school year. What does the mayor and powers to be think of a 5 hour school day, conditional lunch and limitted after school programs for the Lakehurst high schoolers now?. Most people in Lakehurst seem to like the idea of Jackson.
Lakehurst Resident October 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM
The school in question, Jackson Liberty, is 14 miles round trip. It takes an average driver 15 minutes to get there in morning traffic. If I can save on my tax bill, I'm all for it if the students get more AP programs.
Lakehurst Resident October 16, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Manchester has to explain why it's so expensive for our kids, not Lakehurst. In the days of cost saving efforts, why hasn't Manchester become more competitive rather than more expensive over the years? Sure, we pay the same as last year but the two years prior, our rates were raised. Lakehurst residents are tired of subpar education for higher costs than other local options!!
Lakehurst Resident October 16, 2012 at 12:38 AM
If you read the report, Lakehurst provides transportation. Since the buses that come to Lakehurst now are on our dime, maybe Manchester can decide how to lower costs to our district starting with transportation.
Lakehurst Resident October 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Sad to see that our school kids are being shorted this year; they are home by noon and we're paying for a full day of school. We should get a refund!
Lakehurst Resident October 16, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Lakehurst residents would see a tax savings of $0.17 per $100 assessed value. So a house assessed at $250K could potentially lower their tax bill by $425? GO FOR IT!!
lkhstlion October 16, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Yes, Lakehurst will either need to provide transportation or pay Jackson over $500 a year per student to bus. Jackson is also a pay to play school district. So sports and clubs will cost the Lakehurst parents money. Don't worry though...you cap out at $250. So once you, as the parent have paid $250 for your child to participate in sports, you are off the hook for the rest of the year. Also if your son or daughter have a car be prepared to cough up $50 for a parking pass. Hmmm....$1 more a day for a hot lunch too.
Billabong October 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM
WhitingBoy is right, Lakehurst must make the decision that is in the students' best interests, which is different than moving just for the sake of saving money. All I hear on here is people talking money, which is often the defense of people who do not have kids in the school system and want to lower their taxes (which is the typical response of people in this area of "if it doesn't affect me, I don't want to pay for it any of it."). If Jackson offers better educational opportunities, by all means make the switch. It may mean my taxes go up a bit but I certainly understand Lakehurst's decision. My kids are not yet in Manchester High School but I will tell you this - the Manchester teachers they have had so far are some of the best, most communicative and caring teachers I've ever seen (and no, I'm not a teacher or married to one). I couldn't be more happy with their education thus far.
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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