$7.6 Million LBI School Referendum Focus of Town Hall Meeting

Special Election on LBI School Improvements Dec. 10

Long Beach Island — Two town-hall style meetings to discuss a $7.68 million referendum for renovations to the LBI Grade School are slated for later this month in Long Beach Township and Ship Bottom. The first meeting is set for 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Long Beach Township municipal complex. The second session will be held in Ship Bottom with a 6:30 p.m. start time on Monday, Oct. 21. Both sessions are open to everyone.

LBI Consolidated Board of Education President William Fenimore and Bonnie Picaro, board vice president, will be part of an ad-hoc committee at both meetings. Two other board members are expected to also be in attendance for the town-hall sessions. Fenimore said he is working with elected officials on the Island to schedule similar meetings in their communities.

In September, just three weeks after failing to garner enough support, a majority of the school board approved a motion to move forward with plans to rehab the 1950s-era school in Ship Bottom. The referendum is expected to be held from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Under the proposed renovation plans for the Ship Bottom building, which were unveiled in part at a special meeting in August, the current third- and fourth-grade wing of the school would be converted to the early childhood wing; the superintendent’s office would be relocated to the business office, and there would be two offices in the media center. The media center would also host the fifth- and sixth-grade homerooms for attendance only. Students in the fifth- and sixth-grade area are already changing classes, according to Superintendent Peter Kopack.

The art and music rooms would remain intact, and there would be the ability to hold two gym classes during one period, Kopack said. One teacher would teach health in a classroom and the other would have use of the gym, he has said.

Frank Little, the professional engineer retained by the board to update an April 2015 structural review of the LBI School, said there is nothing in the proposed plan that would require the district to appear before the Ship Bottom Land Use Board seeking a variance. Likewise, he said the scope of the project would not require raising the building, either in part or in totality.

One of the biggest selling points of rehabbing the school for many is the nearly 40 percent in state aid the district would receive to counter the cost. As of now, the district would receive roughly 34 percent in aid from the state for the project. The $7.6 million in bonds is over a 20-year period, and cannot be paid back in full for almost a decade, Tony Solimine, bond counsel for the district, has said.

Taxpayers with a home assessed at $300,000 can expect to see a school tax increase of $8, according to the presentation. It’s a $17 spike in school taxes for a home assessed at $600,000 and $28 for a $1 million assessed value home.

—G.G.S.

Reposted from The Sandpaper