The Lakehurst School District intends to preserve its sending-receiving relationship with Manchester schools after studying whether to move its students to Jackson.
After a feasibility study and public meetings on the topic, members of the Lakehurst Board of Education announced Tuesday that it has worked out differences with Manchester and will retain the relationship for the foreseeable future.
“Tonight, we’re bringing up our Jackson-Manchester issue that we have been researching. We had a feasibility study done, heard your concerns and questions. We have met with Manchester; they have heard our concerns and questions as well. We have had meetings with them, and they have offered us some new fees,” said board President JoAnn Septor.
“I met with (Superintendent) David Trethaway several times over the course of the month, and Mr. (Barry) Parliman (Lakehurst’s Board Administrator) escorted me on a few of those, when also meeting with their Business Administrator (Craig Lorentzen),” Lakehurst Superintendent Jill Dobrowansky said.
Dobrowansky explained that Manchester schools had proposed to reduce several fees incurred by Lakehurst — such as per pupil amounts, the cost for the resource room used to instruct special education students and transportation costs.
“We are also investigating and starting to consider sharing some services, specifically with snow removal. We currently incur the cost to rent our machines, whenever we have those flakes falling from the sky, which hopefully there won’t be any of for the remainder of the year,” said Dobrowansky.
Board Vice President Kevin Oliver also cited better communication between the districts as a catalyst for the discussions moving forward.
“They’re also opening up the communications that were lacking over the last number of years for the educational concerns between Lakehurst and Manchester,” said Oliver. “We’re also setting up another group that is correlating a lot closer than it was before, as far as the educational tracks of both Lakehurst and Manchester in the elementary and middle schools. So as they transition in, they’re along the same lines.”
Oliver said that he foresaw a better relationship going forward between the two districts, at all levels of staff hierarchy.
Dobrowansky stated that Lakehurst was examining opportunities to bring together middle school teachers from their district and Manchester’s, in order to mutually discuss classroom instruction methods and future educational opportunities for students.
“Also, we’re looking at different times to bring our kids (from Lakehurst and Manchester) together. We know that they participate with one another for some recreational activities, but we feel it’s important to bring them together in their educational settings,” said Dobrowansky.
The superintendent added that Manchester School District personnel would be visiting Lakehurst more frequently to assess what opportunities their students are looking for in high school, and to advise them of academic options they may not yet be aware of.
During the public comment session, a parent inquired to the board as to what to tell her daughter when she returned home from the meeting on the status of the school switch.
“They’re going to Manchester,” said Oliver.
When asked by that same parent whether that was the case for the foreseeable future, Oliver replied affirmatively.
Another parent asked when the contracts with Manchester would be up for renewal once again, and Oliver replied that those contracts are annual.
On the cause for the initial rift between the districts, Oliver explained that it could be “chalked up to a notice of unhappy customer relations.”
Board Administrator Barry Parliman commented that the Lakehurst School District had “enjoyed a good relationship” with the Manchester School District going back many years, and anticipated seeing that relationship continue in the future.
Prior to Tuesday evening’s meeting, the Lakehurst Board of Education had until Dec. 1 to make a decision on whether they wanted to begin the process of changing schools and have it completed for the 2013-14 academic year.