Live Updates From The School Board Meeting
Board of Education to hear results of study on closure of West Belmar School; 11 candidates file Tuesday for school board election
UPDATE 11:08 p.m.:The board approved the tentative budget, which includes keeping open West Belmar School, by a vote 8-1.
Board member Laurie Cannon cast the lone vote against the budget. The meeting is adjourned.
UPDATE 11:00 p.m.: The public comment portion of the meeting continues, although more than half of the at least 200 people who came to the meeting have since left.
UPDATE 10:40 p.m.: "I hope it does not go unnoticed that we are cutting some very valuable employees from this budget: the custodians,'' said board member David Wren. "I just hope that doesn't go unnoticed.''
UPDATE 10:23 p.m.: The $65,308,467 tentative budget for the 2011-12 school year is supported by a $56,750,239 tax levy, according to the resolution supporting the proposed spending plan.
That plan includes keeping all teachers, programs and West Belmar School, but calls for cutting janitorial services and some administrative positions, according to school Superintendent James Habel.
Tax rate increase is 4.9 cents for each $100 of property value, Habel said. The tax rate for last year was not immediately available.
The budget presentation is scheduled for March 29.
About half those who filled the Intermediate School's cafeteria at the outset of the meeting have since left as some members of the public ask the board and the T&M representatives further questions on the feasibility study.
UPDATE 10:08 p.m.: Tom Coyle, spokesman of the Save Wall Schools group, addressing the board:
"The proposed budget and the tentative plan to keep West Belmar open hinges on the passage of that budget, correct?''
Board members indicated it was.
"So it is in the hands of the public,'' Coyle, of Rosewood Dr., said.
UPDATE: Some clarification on Habel's presentation, now made clear by Habel: West Belmar school is included in tentative budget. If that version continues through, unchanged, through the budget process, West Belmar School will stay open.
UPDATE 9:38 p.m: Tentative budget includes privitization of custodial services, Habel says. But West Belmar School remains open, under the budget. No hard budget numbers are given, such as tax levy or impact on average home assessment.
Questions now being fielded on T&M study.
UPDATE 9:24 p.m.: Superintendent James Habel is about to present the tentative budget.
"This budget can be changed at any time up to and including the public presentation on March 29,'' Habel said. "This budget can be changed.''
UPDATE: 9:17 p.m.: Slechetka finished with presentation, after listing seveal caveats that could impact his projections, such as increase development or changes to the township's affordable housing obligation. Board president calls for two minute break.
UPDATE 9:12 p.m.: Under both scenarios, according to the presentation, all class sizes increase at all three schools, up to as many as 30 pupils in one Allenwood School classroom under Scenario two of T&M's analysis.
UPDATE 9:00 p.m.: Slechetka says T&M mapped two scenarios for absorbing West Belmar students into the remainder of district: One sent students to Central School and to Old Mill School. The second kept West Belmar pupils together in Old Mill school. Under that scenario, many Old Mill students would be moved to Allenwood School.
UPDATE 8:53 p.m.: Slechetka says affordable housing project slated for Asbury Road of 297 units would introduce 129 students into Central School, but is more than five years away and not likely until 2016-2017 school year.
UPDATE 8:51 p.m.: Slachetka says enrollment will decline by 500 students in the next five years, not including the loss of 300 in the past five years, and the trend will continue through 2021.
UPDATE 8:38 p.m.: Slachetka says, if built, a slated affordable housing project on Atlantic Avenue would generate about 15 children who would attend Allenwood School in the 2014-15 school year.
UPDATE 8:30 p.m.: Slachetka says district has lost about 300 students since 2005-06 school year. Says births in wall have slowed since early 2000s, tracking a national trend. And that development activity also has slowed, especially since 2001.
UPDATE 8:23 p.m.: Slachetka says T&M projected student enrollment over 10 years, using various industry standard measures.
UPDATE 8:14 p.m. : T&M about to start presentation. Powerpoint presented by T&M's Stan Slachetka.
UPDATE: 8:06 p.m.: Flag salute and roll call. More than 200 people filling Intermediate School cafeteria. Board is going through committee reports.
UPDATE 7:57 p.m.: Summary of T&M Study says that West Belmar School can be shuttered and students can be absorbed by the three remaining elementary schools under two scenarios it has developed. Under one, classroom student levels will be "within reasonable limits.'' Under another, some classroom sizes in Allenwood School "may be higher than acceptable,'' according to a copy of the presentation.
UPDATE 7:50 p.m.: People are starting to file into the Intermediate School. Copies of T&M presentation have been distributed. It calls for a 479 student decline in student population over the next five years. It also says the rate could be reduced if the township's affordable housing obligation comes to pass. It does not estimate how that would affect the student population.
Here's what we're expecting tonight:
Middletown-based T&M Associates will present the results of its study looking at the closure of West Belmar School to the board.
The presentation closes a month-long study of whether the district could feasibly shutter West Belmar School — the district's oldest and least populated elementary school — and disburse pupils to each of the three remaining elementary schools.
District officials have said that the closure could save the district $1 million annually, providing a hedge against failed budgets or a loss in state aid.
The prospect of that move is vehemently opposed by members of the Save Wall Schools group, which has vocally blasted the plan and has enlisted members of the local business community and other residents to support the school with signs opposing the possible closure.
District officials have said they had feared the school system would receive less financial aid from the state for the 2011 budget plans.
That fear was assuaged last month when Gov. Chris Christie loosened aid to schools by $250 million statewide, including an additional $600,000 for Wall.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday - the deadline to file to run in the school board election - there are 11 candidates for four open seats on the 9-member board. Three incumbents will vie against a slew of challengers in the April 27 polling. Board member James Carhart did not file to run for re-election.
Incumbents David Wren, 3243 Rambling Hill Ct., Douglas Wild, 2131 Old Mill Rd., and Pamela Perrotto, 2315 Xanadu Ln., filed to run to retain their seats.
They will be challenged by:
Robin Cervantes, 2009 Tally Ho Dr.; Timothy Farrell, 1601 Walton Way; Michael Manson, 1716 Grove St.; John Meechan, 3024 McKinley; Anne Moonan, 1910 Sherwood Dr.; Joseph Tonzola, 2400 Lincoln Ave.; Micheal Tranberg, 1604 Dubac Rd.; and John Tavis, 1610 Holly Blvd.
Tavis, Tranberg and Perotto will run for a one-year unexpired term of former board member Michael Bogner, who resigned in July, 2010.
Cervantes, Farrell, Manson, Meechan, Moonan, Tonzola, Wren and Wild are all running for full, three-year terms on the 9-member board.