Friday, January 20, 2012

SIA Newsletter 1 20 2012 - Special School (Construction) Election on Tuesday, January 24, 3 pm to 9 pm

This Tuesday, from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm, there will be a special school election with two questions on the ballot. We hope all registered voters will take time to vote at the Firehouse.

Background: Children in Upper Township attend four public schools: Upper Township Primary School (K through 2 with pre-school); Upper township Elementary School (grades 3 to 5); Upper Township Middle School (grades 6 to 8) and Ocean City High School. The Primary and Elementary schools are almost adjacent in Marmora and the Middle School is out in Petersburg, past the Township Building.

All three Upper Township schools are in "bad shape". The school board proposed a $15.9 million dual project, funded at 40% by the State, to make substantial renovations to the Primary and Middle schools. Last April, by a 3 to 2 margin, the voters turned it down.
The school board then had a Building and Grounds Committee, with a number of residents, take another look at the proposal. Because of the State funding, they could not materially change the project but instead split it into two parts: $12.5 million for "crucial" work on the two schools, and $3.4 million for work that is less crucial or could be done over time with other resources. If the voters approve either the "crucial" work or both pieces, the State will pay 40% of the cost. That State commitment expires next month, in February.
The property tax impact for a Strathmere property assessed at $1.0 million would be an additional $263 annually for Part 1 (Bond Proposal #1) and another $71 for Bond Proposal #2. If you are "lucky" enough to have your property assessed at $500,000, the impact would be half; if you are "lucky" enough to have your property assessed at $2 million, it would double.

Note that this  only provides for the Primary and Middle schools. The Elementary School, which is in even worse shape, probably needs to be replaced. The School Board had previously planned to build a new elementary school, but the election defeat last April has caused them to reconsider and they are looking at building an addition to the Primary School that would accomodate grades K through 5 in one building. While less expensive than a new building, this will still be very costly.

To summarize, here are the figures in chart form ($000 for bond proposals):

Bond Proposal     -                        # 1             2               Total

State Portion           -                    $5,014      $1,353        $6,367

Upper Twp Portion       -              $7,521       $2,030        $9,551

Total                         -                  $12,535     $3,383        $15,918

Annual Property Tax Increase   -  $263           $71             $334         ($1.0 million assessment)

Elementary School Cost and Tax Impact: To Be Determined

Here are two letters to the Upper Township Gazette by folks who served on the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the first by Strathmere's own Ted Kingston and the second by a mainland resident. Both are worth reading.

Ted Kingston 12/14/2011 letter

John Mirenda 12/27/2011 letter

The "elephant" in the room" for us, of course, is that while we pay about one-sixth of the cost of the schools, we have no Strathmere children attending any Upper Township schools (or OCHS).

However you feel, please get out and vote on Tuesday!

You may not have noticed, but on December 22, for subscribers in Strathmere and Whale Beach, Comcast moved the Upper Township Public Channel from Channel 96 to Channel 2. We no longer receive the public channel that carried information for Sea Isle City, Avalon and Stone Harbor.

Thanks once again to all for your continuing support of the SIA (start saving up for your 2012 dues payments)!

Linda Bateman
Elaine Holsomback
Donna Diefenderfer
Dorothy Addario
Ken Weaver

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