Lakehurst Parents Concerned School Switch Could Hurt Students

Board of Education members said public comment will help in their decision making

Lakehurst residents expressed concerns that their children and community may suffer if administrators decide to send high school students to Jackson instead of Manchester.

The findings of a feasibility study commissioned by the borough's Board of Education was presented at the body's meeting Tuesday night. Though the study indicates that a switch from Manchester to Jackson could save Lakehurst residents on their tax bills without impacting education, many parents in attendance said that they are against the potential change. 

"Let's not change something that's not broken," said Manapaqua Avenue resident Brenda Applegate, one of many who spoke against the possibility during the meeting's public comment portion.

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 the borough change schools and end a 36-year sending-receiving relationship. 

, though that township's superintendent of schools said in a letter to Patch on Tuesday that the study does not offer a fair comparison as it uses a per pupil cost figure that is too high.

While Jackson would offer more courses and co-curricular opportunities, both schools "compare favorably" with their district factor groups on the HSPA and SAT tests and provide a safe environment for students, the report finds.

The report authors explained these points to those in attendance before the floor was opened to public comment. Some parents who spoke said that, despite the projected tax savings they would rather have their children attend high school in Manchester, about 2 miles from the borough. 

"Personally, I don't think that Manchester is an issue," said Chestnut Street resident Laura Hanily, a parent with one child in Manchester Township High School and three more who would one day attend there. "I really think you have to take everything into consideration — the whole big picture. I'm in for Manchester."

A parent questioned whether the 7-mile distance from Lakehurst to Jackson Liberty might make it more difficult to coordinate transportation to extracurricular events and activities, a situation that might cause students to miss out on opportunities and potentially get into trouble while they remain home.

"What are these kids going to be doing around Lakehurst?" asked Elm Street resident Bobbie Seidel.

Another parent questioned safety from the borough to the high school on Route 547, a two-lane, bending road where last week two Jackson teenage sisters were killed in a head-on crash. 

The larger Jackson Liberty may also present fewer chances for Lakehurst's high school students to gain a spot on sports teams, said Kenneth Palmer, president of the Manchester Township Educational Foundation.

Board members did not have answers to all the questions at the meeting, but they said that comments and questions will be taken into consideration — a running list of issues was kept. Board Vice President Kevin Oliver said that members were thankful that parents came to the meeting to offer feedback, most of which were concerns that administrators had not yet considered.

"These are the things we want to know. We want you to come to us with your concerns," he said.

Concerns with the study itself were also brought up. Busing and resource room fees were not included in the study because they have to be determined, the board said, but they will be taken into account before any decision is made.

The district's business administrator Barry Parliman said that the investigation into the switch has "never been about the dollars.

"This could lead to even more communication with Manchester over the cost of tuition and trust us that I think this board has had nothing but the community's well-being in mind," he said. 

Despite the possible change of schools, Lakehurst's relationship with Manchester remains good.

"Please be assured, our lines of communication are very, very open, warm, friendly and professional at this point," Parliman said. 

Oliver said that the study is something that "will get their attention."

"We have one seat on Manchester's board," Oliver said, adding that the one vote does not carry much weight. "But we do have $2 million that we send them."

Lakehurst Superintendent of Schools Jill Dobrowansky said that she has been in regular contact with administrators in both Manchester and Jackson regarding the potential switch.

"Those conversations are ongoing," she said.

The board has until Dec. 1 to make a decision should they want to begin the process of changing schools and have it completed for 2013-14. Board members anticipate voting on the issue at their Nov. 20 regular meeting. 

"It's a possibility that we'll be making a decision," board President JoAnn Septor said.

If the board decide to make the switch, Lakehurst students attending MTHS at the time of the decision would be able to choose to finish their secondary education in Manchester or transfer to Jackson. Board members warned the process may take a substantial amount of time.

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Michele Dimeo October 17, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I agree good to know.
mitch October 17, 2012 at 08:08 PM
manchester resident stated that most manchester parents would be happy to see lakehurst go and if we could swing it leave the middle school also. They also asked for facts. well here are a few first of which is lakehurst dose not go to the middle school. we are a k-8 school. prior to going to manchester, lakehurst went to lakewood and centrial. if you look back at the numbers lakehurst kids had a high drop out rate. even when manchester opened it was like that. our kids are a small group who come from a small close knit school. going to a new school with all new people could be trying on any account but after years of a manchester/lakehurst bond so to say our lakehurst kids are doing well. drop outs are smaller and the school is close enough for our kids to walk home in the event of an emergency. for 36 years jackson and manchester have been rivals. even though lakehurst is not manchester we have been combined for those 36 years. that in itself will put a mark on each of these kids that will possibly go to liberty. yes kids are resillent but sadly not all kids are. even in manchester which is half the size of liberty you can almost always pick out the lakehurst kids. it is noted that liberty has more sports/extra curricular but lakehurst kids will probably not get a chance to utilize these things untill years after this switch took place. it took some time before lakehurst was comfortable and a regular fixture in manchester activities.
mitch October 17, 2012 at 08:32 PM
just wanted to add that i have had 3 go through manchester from lakehurst and because of this i have made many good friends from manchester. because of this i can say without doubt that not all manchester wants to see us gone. most could not care less. it would of been nice to see more lakehurst parents involved at manchester but lets face the facts manchester parents are not involved either, and if we wind up at liberty it will be the same there. another thing to keep in mind is that jackson is pay to play so extra curricular is not free. and even though you do not expect towns to be petty manchester and jackson have been rivals for 36 years if lakehurst goes there they to may be considered a rival. no one wants to train people for the opposing team.
Irina October 17, 2012 at 08:53 PM
How about ALL THE FACTS....Which BOE member is selling out Lakehurst?
Manchester resident October 17, 2012 at 09:39 PM
did not know lakehurst was k-8 sorry about that
2pfspiff October 17, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Ok then explain to me what is the benefit of going to Jackson? And drinking the Manchester kool aid. Was this your idea of being clever. There were a lot of people that lived their lives in Lakehurst, went to Lakehurst school then went to Manchester high school. They want their kids to do the same. It is easy to yap yap yap on a forum or a blog. Grow a pair and voice how you feel at the next board meeting instead of hiding behind a screen name.
2pfspiff October 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Good question? Where were the majority that you speak of? At least the minority cares enough to show up and be heard. Can't say the same for you so called majority.
2pfspiff October 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Definitely good to know.
Lakehurst Resident October 18, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Been involved in many Board meetings in this town. This decision has already been made so save your breath. Once again our children suffer.
Concerned Parent October 18, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Why would a Board of Ed Member weigh in on an EDUCATION issue without using their real name? That doesn't seem very ethical, please tell me this isn't the case.
Concerned Parent October 18, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Name names!
Billabong October 18, 2012 at 10:34 AM
Concerned parent - it makes you wonder, doesn't it? There's nothing wrong with an elected official taking a side in an issue and presenting his or her reasons behind their stance. But to have a board member post anonymously pushing an agenda - where's the transparency in that? It's just another example of people who are elected ignoring who they serve. "Save your breath?" That's a real nice way to talk to people you're supposed to serve regardless of their opinion on the matter.
worried parent October 18, 2012 at 10:42 AM
This is so sad that manchester people still think they are better than lakehurst. Isn't this in a way a form of bullying telling us that you would be glad to see lakehurst GO. How are we going to teach our children respect if we can't respect one anothers towns?
Billabong October 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Manchester people don't think they're better than Lakehurst - don't label an entire town based on the responses of a select few. If the town thinks Jackson is a better opportunity for your students, by all means go, and best of luck to both the students and the parents. But in many ways, this sounds like a move that's being considered because it's a cheaper option. If the move is made for financial reasons, by all means go ahead but be honest about those reasons. Don't try to belittle Manchester High, which has been a good school to both Manchester and Lakehurst kids for years, as a reason the kids are leaving.
Crzyme October 18, 2012 at 12:25 PM
really? decision is not final to Commissioner of Ed says so, and Manchester has the right to fight that decision. Knowing and being so BALD about ur statements makes me wonder.
Michele Dimeo October 18, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Billabong, I believe our "Lakehurst Resident" is on the defensive now.
Hurstian October 18, 2012 at 01:35 PM
If manchester residents came to the meeting. You would see the parents that came are not supportive of the transfer.. If they were there the parents that were in support of it. They did not speak at ALL! Board president stated if they were able to reach a decision it would be publicly voted on at their November meeting. The letter and study would have to be to the commisioner by Dec 1st.. Everyone can sit here and knit pick and say this or that. BUT the fact is noone knows until November. Everyone can assume they know. Even if it goes to the commissioner and say he approves Manchester can file an appeal. Manchester stands to loose as well. Those schools loose alot of money..
Manchester resident October 18, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Ok I do not care or want to see the kids from lakehurst go, I just put that out there to put a swift kick to LAKEHURST RESIDENT who is trying to push the kids into Jackson. For what ever reason not caring what the parents of the kids want. Maybe he wants us to run to him get down on a knee and kiss his ring and say please oh please don't go master.So in writing my previous post I instead gave him or her what they really needed which was a good strong slap to the face to show him/her that no one will be on line to bend the knee or kiss the ring. If I offended anyone from lakehurst I do apologize if you must go then go we will be sorry to see you leave and I hope your kids do well, if you stay that's good to you have been a part of manchester and we are glad you are hear. If Lakehurst resident and the board would just print the facts and stop trying to manipulate them to fit what they want to have happen all would see that it is not worth it pay to play busing to school and so no and so on.sorry again if I offended anyone
April October 18, 2012 at 04:52 PM
It is not unethical for a board member to comment anonymusly on a blog; not sure where that would come from but just want that to be noted. I'm a BOE member and can honestly say all concerns were valid regarding the need for a feasibility study. I have only been on the board for 5yrs and our son is a senior at MTHS. It is in the best interest of the children to investigate all avenues to ensure they are receiving a fair and equitable education. To that end, this study gave us the information we did not have at hand to make an informed decision. Please know that our concerns were not financially driven but driven instead by the quality of education and the concerns raised in the past decade regarding the high number of drop-outs from Lakehurst. This study also brought to light issues within our own system that can be addressed and we're confident our new superintendent will focus her efforts on taking corrective actions as necessary to ensure our students are prepared for MTHS or whatever high school they attend (since many are military family members who transfer during their middle and high school years). I urge all to continue to attend school board meetings and participate fully; this was the largest crowd I've ever seen and it would be refreshing to have more community input.
Concerned Parent October 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Yes it just showed up. April just to clear up any confusion, is it correct to assume that you are "Lakehurst Resident?"
April October 18, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Just as an aside (since many will be viewing this article): St. Francis Community Center will be bringing the Adult Basic Skills/GED program to Lakehurst Elementary School beginning January 8, 2013 at 6pm. On January 8, you will receive an orientation and testing will occur to determine your strengths and weaknesses to tailor the program to meet your individual needs. This program will run January through May on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-9 pm; closed when the school has a scheduled holiday. There is a cost of $15 for the math workbook but not for the course. You must attend orientation with a parent/guardian if you are under the age of 18; this is open to all persons. For more information or to register, please contact Nancy Chiorozzi at 1-609-494-8861 ext 185.
April October 18, 2012 at 05:25 PM
This is my name on Patch; you can click on my name and see what I've posted over the past months.
Crzyme October 18, 2012 at 05:37 PM
refreshing post! thnk u
Concerned Parent October 18, 2012 at 05:44 PM
OK. So April forgive me if I incorrectly worded the question: Someone identified "Lakehurst Resident" as a BOE member. Assuming by your description above that you are April Chillemi, did you previously post on this thread under the name "Lakehurst Resident?" I just was hoping to determine the validity of the other poster's claim.
Billabong October 18, 2012 at 10:17 PM
April, why would a board member post anonymously on a blog article that directly addresses an issue about his/her school system? You are elected officials - you serve the people and their children and these people deserve to know how each board member feels about a relevant topic such as this. Support the switch to Jackson, oppose it, or call for more facts but there is no justification for posting anonymous (and I might add insulting) remarks. Unfortunately too many elected officials forget that they should be "serving" the people. Whether or not someone agrees with your opinion on this issue, you should at least have the fortitude to stand behind your thoughts and openly express where you stand and why you feel the way you do. It's called transparency...and I just want that to be noted.
April October 18, 2012 at 10:43 PM
I think a lot of people hide behind screen names so they can freely express their feelings, right "concerned parent"? I don't poke fingers at anyone who chooses to do so and think if someone doesn't want to announce who they are, that's their right. It's called freedom of the press and any news organization worth their salt won't attempt to discover an identity as they value everyone's first amendment right to free speech. I value all opinions and feel strongly about these types of forums allowing open, honest communication~ with real names or online personas.
Concerned Parent October 18, 2012 at 11:01 PM
You still haven't answered the question.
Michele Dimeo October 19, 2012 at 12:16 AM
And sadly we will not get one.
Billabong October 19, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Sorry, using a Joe and Judy Regular "online persona" is not the same when you're an official who can directly influence where children go to school. You were elected by the people of Lakehurst and they have a right to know where you stand. Why so secretive? As for your statement on freedom of the press, it's obvious you don't know the definition. Freedom of the press has nothing to do with keeping identities hidden. In fact, it allows for the press to uncover and report on news without government prohibiting or interfering on the reporting of facts. It's really revealing when elected officials are so apprehensive about stating their position. You took a public job on the board, your opinions on matters affecting the town should also be public. Some people may like your opinions and others will not. But as an elected official, you have a duty to keep the public informed of your opinions and ideas regarding matters that affect all of the people in the town.
April October 19, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Sorry; I don't spend all day online and you can't see comments on your iPhone. I am not the poster above; it could be another BOE member or not...


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