Educating Earle kids still an issue for Tinton Falls

Boro continues to pursue new state legislation


TINTON FALLS- Borough officials are renewing efforts to get a bill passed that is in line with an agreement with the U.S. Navy to educate dependent children living atNaval Weapons Station Earle.

According to PeterKaravites, president of the Tinton Falls Board of Education, with a new legislative session under way the board is “not letting this go.”

“We are continuously working on this at everymeeting, and we will continually work tomake sure that the taxpayers and the children of Tinton Falls do not get hurt by this,” he said.

The issue of educating the children living at Earle has been a point of contention between Tinton Falls andColtsNeck Township since 1988, when ColtsNeck declined to continue educating them.

Tinton Falls, under its contract with the Navy, has been educating children of Navy personnel living on the base since.According to borough officials, state lawiswrittenmore broadly and leaves the borough open to having to educate other children living on the base at the expense of Tinton Falls taxpayers.

In addition, on average the school district receives around $2,400 for each of about 90 military (U.S. Navy dependents’) children, but it costs around $12,000 to educate a student in Tinton Falls, said Karavites.

According to the Tinton Falls BOE, the government does not pay a fair share cost of educatingmilitary children.

With the federal government floating a proposal to allow private housing at Earle, last year Tinton Falls lobbied for a new state lawin linewith the terms of its contractwith theNavy to educate onlyNavy dependents.A bill introduced by former Assemblyman Michael Panter was approved in May but stalled in the Senate at year’s end.

In the current legislative session, firsttermAssemblymanDeclanO’Scanlon (R-12), is working on the issue.

“Last year was a year that resulted in the twomunicipalitiesnot seeing eye-to-eye onthe issue,” O’Scanlon said. “We’re trying to work together to prevent this fromhappening.”

O’Scanlon said that his office is holding discussions with officials from both municipalities in an attempt to find a solution and a way to ameliorate costs should the private housing be approved.

In addition O’Scanlon said they will be meetingwith state education officials in February as well as working with congressional representatives.

“We are working hard to make sure that we stay on top of it and do our best to solve it,” he said. “Additionally, we are working with our congressmen to stop the housing in the first place.”

Reports fromtheGovernmentAccounting Office (GAO) that will determine the feasibility of civilian housing on the base are expected in February, according to O’Scanlon.

“Should they find it unworkable, that could take it off the table,” O’Scanlon said. “There is lots of communication open and there’s a very respectful dialogue that’s going on.Wewant to settle this in the bestway possible for everyone involved. If there’s a way to avoid it, we’re going to find it.”

“The borough of Tinton Falls feels very confident thatwewillwin ultimately because we are right,”Karavites said. “This is still the number one thing on our radar and we will not let it die.”