Central Regional Dissolution Denied Again [AUDIO]
Seaside Park and Island Heights residents may have hit a roadblock in their decades-long fight to dissolve the Central Regional School District in Ocean County, after the New Jersey Supreme Court denied a recent petition.
A lawsuit continues, as the two municipalities attempt to break away from the district that also includes Berkeley Township and Ocean Gate. Many residents, citing years upon years of tax inequities, agree that there is something severely flawed in the school funding formula.
They said they wanted to avoid litigation, instead trying to address the issue through legislation, but that attempt fell on deaf ears.
"There were several bills on the table that were being considered and then, without reason or an explanation to us, they were tossed out," said Patricia Deguitis of Seaside Park. "This came from our local leaders, who we obviously couldn't depend on to make a change."
Seaside Park has been a sending district of Central Regional since 1954. Prior to that, students in Seaside Park would attend Toms River schools.
"Seaside Park paid Central Regional through the 'turnstile' method, or per capita, until 1976, just like the other towns," said Vito Gagliardi, attorney for the residents named in the lawsuit. "But that all changed in 1976, after the state legislature changed the tuition payment to a formula-based system, based on property values in the town."
Seaside Park has the highest property assessments of all the communities in the district.
"In essence, it is not a fair system and that's why we are fighting it," said Gagliardi. "We haven't worked out what our next step is just yet, but rest assured, my clients aren't through."
Gagliardi said he and the residents will decide how to proceed sometime in the coming weeks.