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Meeting Confusion Spurs Tension Over High School Switch Study

Lakehurst educators claims lack of communication from Manchester over comparative study on sending-receiving arrangement

The Lakehurst Board of Education recently aired grievances that Manchester administrators held meetings over a feasibility study commissioned to determine the future home of the borough's high school students without alerting anyone on Lakehurst’s board

Currently, high school students from Lakehurst attend Manchester Township High School, but the study was initiated some months back by administrators in borough to determine if those students could receive more opportunities at Jackson Liberty High School while potentially saving taxpayers money.

Lakehurst Board of Education Vice President Kevin Oliver said Tuesday during his board's regular meeting that Manchester has been calling high school parents about meetings, but "they’re not notifying the [Lakehurst] Board, or the school, nor anybody else. I’ve actually been taken off the reverse 911 list from them."

A few borough board members did show up at a meeting to make their voices heard and asked Manchester administrators why they were not given notice, Oliver said. 

“They would not answer. They actually returned a response of, 'This is not your business, this is Manchester’s business.' Meanwhile, the meeting was for Lakehurst high school students, period. There were no students or parents from Manchester there," Oliver said.

Manchester Superintendent of Schools David Trethaway had a different take on the matter. 

“We put out a reverse 911 call on the mold situation [at Manchester Township Middle School]," Trethaway said when reached by phone Wednesday.

His district was informed that some parents of high school students living in Lakehurst did not receive those recorded messages. Those parents were then notified about a meeting that Trethaway said was to talk about how middle school students are sharing the high school while mold cleanup is completed.

"When the parents got [to the meeting], we went over the split session schedule,” Trethaway said.

Oliver said that by listening to voicemails left by the Manchester schools on parents’ cell phones, the Lakehurst board learned that the reason for the meeting being held was two-fold: the split session schedule and discussion on the "Manchester-Jackson high school issue."

“When we confronted them about that, they denied that was even part of the meeting," Oliver said. "Yet, when we replayed the voicemail for them in the meeting, and it specifically said they were going to discuss that, they still tried to deny it. Nothing was addressed and nothing was discussed."

Trethaway confirmed that Lakehurst board members also attended that meeting and asked questions regarding the feasibility study.

“There were questions on what we are doing, but it’s not a Manchester situation. It wasn’t Manchester initiating the study. That was done by the Lakehurst BOE," Trethaway said.

On Tuesday night, Lakehurst board members approved a motion to switch their liaison to Manchester Schools from Board President JoAnn Septor to Oliver.  

“That’s the reason Kevin Oliver is taking over the position with Manchester," Septor said. "They seem to be trying to strong-arm or bully us, and we’re not going to allow that in our decision-making."

Trethaway said that Manchester willingly participated in the feasibility study. They welcomed a representative from the company conducting the study to the high school and gave them a tour of the building. The school was also thanked for its cooperation, he said.

Trethaway continued that he and Manchester administrators are waiting for the results of the study to arrive.

“We’ll wait for the process to happen. We’ve always treated Lakehurst students the same as Manchester students. They’re an important part of the district, and we’d like to keep them,” he said.

Lakehurst board members received the third-party report on the findings of the feasibility study comparing Manchester and Jackson during its closed session meeting on Tuesday night.

The firm that conducted the study will present its findings at the board's next regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Lakehurst Elementary School's media center. A copy will be available on the district's website the day prior, and the public is welcome to offer comment at the meeting. 

It was learned in June that Lakehurst school administrators were investigating a possible switch of sending students to Jackson Liberty High School instead of Manchester Township High School, after they said that it may save borough residents money and provide more educational opportunities to those students.

Lakehurst is charged the actual cost to educate each pupil it sends to Manchester, that district's business administrator has said. For the 2012-13 school year, 155 Lakehurst students will attend high school in Manchester at $14,000 per student, a fee that remained stable from the previous school year.

According to the Jackson School District, its 2011-12 cost per pupil cost was nearly $12,000.

 

Manchester Patch Editor Gregory Kyriakakis contributed reporting to this story.

Mike Jones September 21, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I grew up in Lakehurst and graduated from Central Regional School District, I would like to see us return and go there again. I keep reading of all the good stuff going on there! Lets explore all options for our students!
Hurst September 21, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Glad to hear you had a good experience in Central but my children will not be going there. There are drug issues and reported cases of violence that far outweigh those in Manchester or Jackson. Central (in my opinion) is not a good option. I would hope that my children go from Lakehurst to Manchester. They have many friends in Manchester through their extracurricular activities. Where are the parents that say "my children get treated like second class citizens by Manchester students"? This is what the board is quoted to have said. Where does the truth lie as to why this study is going on in the first place? It is not because we will save 2,000 a year per student.
M Jones September 21, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Hurst: What are you talking about? Central Regional has more opportunities, better academics and athletics than both Manchester and Jackson! Does Jackson and Manchester have a Humanities Academy where students can get 18 free college credits from Georgian Court University taught on Central's Campus? Every school has its issues but I have been asking questions and gethering information I just hope our board members do the same when making a decision. This is just my opinion but if I had to choose between Manchester, Jackson or Central. It woudl be Central first with Jackson second. Once again I hope they do their homework for the kids and taxpayers!
Hurst September 21, 2012 at 11:38 PM
You can also view the number of violent episodes, weapons violations, etc. at the New Jersey Department of Education website. I certainly do understand that there are other schools that have desirable alternatives. For my family it's still Manchester.
Lakehurst Resident September 22, 2012 at 02:09 PM
The NJ DOE reported 0.0% dropout rate from MTHS. I know of at least 15 Lakehurst kids who've dropped out in the last two years. I don't trust the self-reported information found on the NJ DOE from MTHS and I know the information isn't verified by the state as it's too costly to evaluate all the schools in NJ. What else has MTHS "self-reported" that isn't accurate? Central Regional can decide not to accept special education students under the school choice program while Jackson cannot. I also don't like the idea of a 40 minute bus ride but would be fine with it if the kids did better academically. I think our kids have a better chance at Jackson~ our gifted and talented kids would be offered a wider selection of AP Honors courses and their cirriculum has more options for our students. They also offer more college prep courses and even have a better relationship with the military bases (not just Lakehurst side of JB MDL) which means their students go to McGuire or Dix for programs. I think parents should embrace change not for change sake but for the betterment of our children. MTHS has shown how little we're worth to them with these half days~ look at Treathaway's response to our BOE members: "It's a Manchester issue". Sure it is but it affects OUR students who you charge. It may be me but if a school official treats us like chattel, it only stands to reason that's the school's opinion as well.
Mark Wendell September 22, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Longer bus rides will negate the measly $2,000 savings. Esp if Central is considered. Not that I put to much credit into what people say off the cuff but I have heard Central is known for it's drug problems. I think all schools stuggle with drug issues but I have just heard for years Central was bad. Go to a football game at Central and watch the normal arrest made in the crowd of kids, it's fun.
Lakehurst Resident September 24, 2012 at 02:50 PM
$2K per child x 155 kids PLUS no cost for resource room ($245K as per their posted budget)= $555,000 savings. The school can give back to us taxpayers for a change!!
Piney Girl September 24, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Then move to Manchester and Lakehurst Residents will not have to pay.
Piney Girl September 24, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Every school district has drug issues, however some districts cover up the issue and others don't. You can get drugs anywhere you want to, you can see it if you want to and not if you don't .

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