The following was addressed to Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education President William Fenimore.
Dear Mr. Fenimore:
The taxpayers who support and, most importantly, the parents with children in the LBI Consolidated School District have a right to know all the facts relative to the consolidation of students into a single school. The decision by the LBI Board of Education to move all students into the LBI School may be reasonable and justified, however it is not reasonable to expect support for this decision without a clear understanding of the factors that influenced it.
Therefore, we respectfully request that the BOE provide all available information germane to the consolidation issue. This would include but may not be limited to providing the following information with all data currently available to the BOE:
1. Compare the following factors between the LBI School and the EJ School:
a) The number of students: those currently enrolled for the 2019-2020 school year, and the projected enrollment for the next five-year period.
b) The year in which each school was opened to students.
c) The locations of each school. Include comparisons regarding: location safety (consider adjacent roads, traffic, etc.); area in square feet or acres; useful area within each school building (square feet); advantages and disadvantages (FEMA flood hazard data, flooding history, etc.) of each location.
2. Describe the repairs and renovations needed to bring each school up to required safety, aesthetic and educational standards. Beside repairs and renovations include any new classrooms or any additional required space(s), e.g., library, cafeteria, gymnasium, etc.
3. Describe the projected costs to repair and/or renovate each school. Note that it is an incorrect comparison to use the costs associated with the initial BOE referendum, which required a complete “moonshot” renovation. To compare “apples-to-apples,” please use only costs associated with repair and renovation of the EJ School.
4. It is commonly known that the LBI School is wholly owned by the BOE and may be sold at its discretion; please describe the status of the EJ School and surrounding properties. Include a description of all known future outcomes if the EJ School is abandoned by the BOE, e.g., return of the property to Surf City.
5. The projected or estimated monies expected if the LBI School were to be sold to pay off (in full or in part) the cost to renovate or repair the EJ School, if the BOE’s decision were to change. Indicate the net amount (projected cost of renovation, projected sale price of LBI School) to repair and renovate the EJ School.
6. Compare the timelines for renovation between each school.
7. Present a short statement regarding the educational benefit to: a) consolidation, b) consolidation into the LBI School vs. the EJ School.
Please include an explanation of the comment made by a structural engineer hired by the district to assess the LBI School’s physical structure that the “structural system for this building is approaching the end of its lifespan and if a major and permanent renovation is not implemented, then the existing building will need to be demolished and a new facility constructed.”
Include a statement that supports renovation of the LBI School in light of the engineer’s assessment. Also, indicate what the chances are that during repairs more structural problems will be uncovered, which may dramatically increase the cost of the repairs.
This and any other relevant information should be distributed as soon as possible to taxpayers and parents alike via a local media outlet. This information would allow stakeholders (parents and taxpayers) to determine if the BOE’s current decision to consolidate into the LBI School and abandon the EJ School is the correct one for our children – who, in a real sense, are the most important stakeholders in your decision.
Bob Danna, trustee
Harvey Cedars Taxpayers Assn.
Barbara Truncellito, trustee
Barnegat Light Taxpayers Assn.