SEA BRIGHT:Borough officials say that Sea Bright is still considering its options in terms of where its children will be educated.
The borough did see a reduction in its Shore Regional school tax bill this year, but officials still feel residents are paying too much because of the number of residents in town compared to the other sending districts West Long Branch, Oceanport and Monmouth Beach. Sea Bright's elementary and middle school-aged students attend the Oceanport School District.
The district's 2015-16 school tax levy remained at $13.8 million for the third consecutive year and of that total, Sea Bright pays about 17 percent, which is a 3 percent difference from last year.
However, Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long said that total is still too high and that there is a flaw in school funding formula, as Sea Bright only sends 23 students to Shore Regional, compared 268 for West Long Branch and 232 for Oceanport.
"They have so many more students and so many more taxpayers and we're paying equal shares even though Sea Bright only makes 2.5 percent of the student body," Long said.
Councilman Charles Rooney said even if Sea Bright was no long a part of the school district, the increased costs to the other towns would not be large.
"The three towns that remain in the Shore Regional District could make up the difference if Sea Bright left the district and it would cost them less to fill the hole that Sea Bright left than Sea Bright pays per year," Long added.
Rooney said there is a chance Sea Bright could become a part of the Henry Hudson School District. Henry Hudson is located in Highlands and serves the towns of Atlantic Highlands and Highlands and students in grades seven through twelve.
"If we were to get out of Shore Regional and go to Henry Hudson, we would be helping Highlands and Atlantic Highlands," Rooney said. "That could be an option coming and we might have to make a big decision at some point."
Long said Highlands and Atlantic Highlands have been discussing forming a new K-12 school district and that Sea Bright could possibly be a part of that.
"We believe by leaving to go to a new, consolidated school district, we will be supported in Trenton," Long said.
If the state does not intervene, a referendum that would be voted on by residents of Shore Regional's four sending districts would have to pass for Sea Bright to be able to leave the school district and go elsewhere.
One resident asked about the possibility of sending students to the Rumson-Fair Haven School District, but Long said the borough has been told that is not an option.
A Sept. 3 town hall meeting has been scheduled concerning Sea Bright's school tax situation.