Dec 31 2014 137 1

Dated: January 1 2015

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Manahawkin/Stafford School System-Why are there two school boards and two separate budgets?

To the new resident or not so new, the Stafford School system is an enigma. Why do you have to vote twice for school board elections and budget?

In order to answer that question, one has to know a little about the history of the Stafford School System. Fifty years ago, Manahawkin was so small and had so few people there was only one school. I once spoke to one of the few residents that actually lived in Manahawkin 60 years ago. She told me she had to “hold it” until she got home because the school still had an outhouses in 1950's. When the Oxycocus School opened, the children helped move the books and furniture down Rt. 9 to the tiny new school. Can you imagine asking the children of today to do that?

By today's standards LBI was pretty empty too. But they had a much larger population than Stafford. Their elementary school had five to twelve children in each grade because most of the houses were summer residents. But they had beautiful houses that paid taxes but didn’t use the school system. LBI had the money, an elementary school system, but no high school system. So they were willing to pay large percentage for a new high School. If you are a resident of Stafford thank your lucky stars that LBI still pays a large percentage of the cost of Southern Regional. If they did not, your taxes would go through the roof. The millionaires and even the owners of bungalows on the island keep Stafford tax rates relatively low.

The reason there are two different school systems is because of LBI only adds to Southern Regional High School for the few children they send there. LBI residents have tried to change this a number of times. You can understand why. Their taxes are outrageous because of Southern Regional. Each time the state has said no.

The two school systems have remained separate and therefore you vote twice. Once for the elementary school system and once for the high school. For a few minutes of time to vote twice, it saves each Stafford tax payer thousands in tax dollars. Great! Unless you a resident of LBI.

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