Plan to put Lakehurst pupils in JLHS dies

Staff Writer

Recent consideration regarding the possibility of students from neighboring Lakehurst being enrolled at Jackson Liberty High School in Jackson on a tuition basis is dead.

The Lakehurst School District Board of Education voted Nov. 20 not to proceed with a plan that could have ended that district’s long-standing agreement with the Manchester School District in which high school-age students who live in Lakehurst attend Manchester High School.

Children who live in Lakehurst attend school in that community for kindergarten through eighth grade.

On the same night the Lakehurst board pulled the plug on the plan, the Jackson School District Board of Education was discussing the potential impact of accepting the Lakehurst high school residents at Jackson Liberty High School.

Lakehurst currently pays about $14,000 per student per year to send its high school students to Manchester ($2.1 million for 150 students).

Jackson would have charged Lakehurst $11,332 per student beginning in the first year of the send-receive agreement (about $1.7 million), according to information provided by Jackson.

In the initial plan, Lakehurst would have covered the costs for transportation, out-ofdistrict tuition and any special education services its students required.

The Jackson School District stood to collect a total of $8.5 million in the first five years of an agreement with the Lakehurst School District. It was estimated that about 150 children from Lakehurst would have attended Jackson Liberty High School.

“Everybody is looking for additional revenue sources in education. We will not keep the standard of education we have … undera2percent[taxlevy]cap,”Jackson Superintendent of Schools Thomas Gialanella said. “If you look at other states that have gone this way over the last five or 10 years, all of them could not keep what they aredoingwitha2percentcap.”

Although Jackson could have made money on a deal with Lakehurst, Manchester would have lost millions in revenue. Gialanella said he did not believe Manchester would have gone along with a plan to permit Lakehurst to send its high school students to Jackson Liberty High School.

Multiple steps would have been required in order for Lakehurst to end its existing send-receive relationship with Manchester.

Chief among the concerns raised by the Jackson school board members in connection with the Lakehurst proposal was the fact that Jackson is slated to see more residential development in the upcoming years that will bring more children to the township’s schools.

Board member Theresa Schiazza specifically referenced the Jackson Woods development, which is slated to bring more than 1,500 new housing units to the township. According to a New Jersey Department of Education Long-Range Facilities Plan Final Determination letter dated June 13, 2008, the functional capacity of Manchester High School was estimated at 1,154 students.

The functional capacity of Jackson Liberty High School is 1,939 students. According to a feasibility study prepared by Lakehurst, the current enrollment reported at Jackson Liberty is 1,454 students.

Accepting 150 students from Lakehurst would have brought the Jackson Liberty enrollment to just over 1,600 students.

The issue appears dead for now, however, as the Lakehurst board voted not to proceed with the plan to remove its students from Manchester High School.

— Contact Andrew Martins at