The Long Beach Island consolidated school district is a K-6 elementary school district that serves the towns of Harvey Cedars, Barnegat Light, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City. The district consists of the Long Beach Island Grade School (LBI School) in Ship Bottom and the Ethel Jacobson Elementary School (EJ School) in Surf City. The LBI School was built in 1951 and occupies land fully owned by the district. The EJ School was built in 1968 and occupies land donated by the Borough of Surf City with deed restrictions that will revert the property back to Surf City with a limited compensation to the Board.
In 2010 when the school budget was voted down, the mayors of the five served towns asked the Board of Education to commission a study to investigate consolidation from two schools to one school. The Board of Education commissioned LAN Associates, a multi-disciplined architectural engineering firm to investigate the consolidation and in 2011 their report recommended consolidation to one school at the newer EJ School site with additions to accept the additional students. The construction cost for the additions would be paid for by selling the LBI School site.
In 2015, at the recommendation of the mayors, Owen, Little and Associates, an engineering firm, was commissioned to further evaluate the condition of the two schools.
Based upon the two reports the Board, at a special meeting in June 2015, presented a cost analysis of the following three scenarios:
Selling the LBI School and adding to the EJ School
Selling the EJ School and adding to the LBI School
Repairing both schools and continuing to use two schools in the district
Due to the higher value of the LBI School property and the requirement for more extensive repairs to the older LBI School the consolidation at the EJ School site was the only scheme that will not require additional funding.
The two professional education administrators in the district, the Superintendent and the EJ School Principal, both have stated that the consolidation to one school will be best for the students and the Education Association (teachers) also have supported the consolidation. Both of these entities have nothing to gain from consolidation and in fact one of the administrators will not be needed with one school and fewer members of the Education Association will be needed. According to the Board’s numbers the consolidation will save the district over $360,000 annually in salaries and maintenance costs.
A possible complication has arisen which affects Ship Bottom, where the LBI School is located. A good part of Ship Bottom governing body’s rejection of selling the LBI School property is due to fears that the developer of the site may be required, by New Jersey affordable housing laws to provide almost 200 affordable housing units which, it is conjectured, could be a cost burden to the Borough of Ship Bottom. To that end the governing body there has issued a resolution to the Board of Education stating that they want the LBI School to continue operating as a school facility.
Ultimately the consolidation will be better educationally for the students and will save tax dollars for tax payers in the district. All consolidation reports and cost estimates can be found on the Long Beach Island School district web-site www.lbisd.schoolfusion.us. Click on “Schools Consolidation” for the Architect and Engineering reports and on “District- Board of Education – Board Minutes – June 2nd, 2015 Public Presentation” for consolidation cost estimates.
The Harvey Cedars Taxpayers Association supports the Board of Education’s decision to consolidate to one school on the EJ School site.