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In Interlaken: State OKs Severing School Ties with Asbury Park

 

coaster-news-200By DON STINE

The New Jersey Commissioner of Education has approved Interlaken’s move to sever its ties with the Asbury Park school district and go into a send-receive relationship with the West Long Branch and Shore Regional school districts.

“Effective immediately, the Commissioner of Education has approved the Interlaken Board of Education’s application to sever its send-receive relationship with the Asbury Park Board of Education. The Commissioner has also approved and authorized the Interlaken Board of Education to establish a formal send-receive relationship with the West Long Branch and Shore Regional boards of education for all Interlaken students Pre-K through grade 12,” said a statement from the Interlaken Board of Education that is posted on the borough’s website.

Interlaken Board of Education President Meredith Fox Wong said that the New Jersey Constitution requires that the school board provide children with thorough and efficient education and that is what Interlaken children now have under Hespe’s ruling.

“Interlaken children now have what the Constitution says they have a right to. We are obligated as a Board of Education to look out for the rights of our children and we did- and ultimately the Hespe and the courts agreed. We now have a wonderful relationship with West Long Branch and Shore Regional and we are very excited. We now have what we should have,” she said.

Fox Wong said that several years ago state education officials advised Interlaken, a non-operational school district without its own school, to look for alternative ways to provide for the education of its children.

“So we did. It took awhile. We had to jump through some hoops, and now it’s finally done. Interlaken children have a public school option and, if that brings more families to the borough, then we welcome them,” she said.

Interlaken filed its appeal to sever its relationship with Asbury Park in August, 2012 and it was first under review by former Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf.

Interlaken is currently a sending district to the Asbury Park school district but about three years ago the Interlaken school board approved sending students to West Long Branch and Shore Regional at a $10,000 per-pupil tuition cost.

On March 7 last year, the Office of Administrative Law issued a decision that the Interlaken Board of Education has satisfied required statutory criteria and granted the borough’s request to terminate its existing sending-receiving relationship with Asbury Park.

The decision also grants Interlaken permission to establish its new sending-receiving relationships with West Long Branch and Shore Regional High School.

But the matter still needed to be approved by current Commissioner of Education David Hespe.

Hespe’s decision now means that Interlaken students shall be entitled to a public education, or special education if required, in the West Long Branch and Shore Regional school districts with the borough paying on a per-pupil tuition basis.

Interlaken traditionally sends few students, if any, to Asbury Park. Most students were privately schooled over the years and the tax school rate in Interlaken has always been low.

Some residents complained that their school tax rate is increasing because of the new educational formula since more students are taking advantage of the public education.

Other residents argue that paying on a per-pupil basis is better than having the state imposed an educational formula that would require school taxes to be based on assessed property valuations, like recently happened in neighboring Loch Arbour.

Hespe’s affirmative decision also now officially terminates the sending-receiving relationship with Asbury Park. He said previously in a letter that Asbury Park is “no longer opposed to the severance of the send-receive relation.”

Any Interlaken residents with Pre-K through grade 12 school-age children who are interested in attending the West Long Branch and Shore Regional public schools should contact Susanne O’Halloran, School Business Administrator/Board Secretary for the Interlaken Board of Education: email address – sohalloran@shoreregional.org, telephone 732-222-9300, x2070.

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