Central Regional Board Member's Parting Words Denounce Toms River Regional

Board member takes issue with TRRS' Seaside Park sending agreement

Gail Coleman — who never minced words during her time on the Central Regional Board of Education — was briefly speechless at recent board meeting.

“For the first time I’m at a loss for words,” Coleman said, after she was presented with a  plaque and bouquet of flowers as a send-off for her last board meeting on April 14. Coleman did not seek re-election.

But Coleman, who holds the the Seaside Park seat on the regional board until the April 27 election, didn't hold back for long.

She lashed out at the Toms River school district for taking in at no cost. Coleman had previously prepared a parting statement about the  situation.

" … Board of education officials in Seaside Park have been making agreements with the Toms River School board to get them to accept grades 7-12 to attend Toms River for free," Coleman said in the statement. "This has created another lawsuit. Their plan is genius. They want all their students to go to Toms River, and would no longer pay toward Central Regional’s school budget, currently $4 million per year. As a Seaside Park taxpayer, I would save close to $2,000 per year in school taxes.”

“Who is stupid enough to believe that would actually happen?" Coleman said after the meeting. "There will be just lawsuit on top of lawsuit. It’s causing chaos. On paper it works out, but somebody else is going to have to pick up the … tab.”

The Berkeley Township Council passed a resolution at the Feb. 22 meeting authorizing special counsel to file an action before the New Jersey state Commissioner of Education against the Toms River Regional Board of Education, former Toms River Regional Superintendent Michael J. Ritacco, and the other constituent municipalities and boards of education of the Central Regional School District.

The Township Council is seeking an order from the DOE commissioner state to include Seaside Park students in grades 7 through 12 --  who currently attend schools in the Toms River school district --- in the count of students in the Application for State School Aid [ASSA] . The AASA is submitted each school year by the Central Regional School District to the state Department of Education.

Not including the nine students in Central's ASSA count would increase Central Regional's tax levy on the taxpayers of the four other sending towns by $421,00 beginning on July 1, Berkeley Township Council President Karen Davis has said.

 “As a Seaside Park taxpayer, I don’t want to be sucked into the vortex that is the Toms River school system, without representation," Coleman said. "Both my son and daughter graduated from Central Regional and have gone on to flourish in their college careers.”

Central Regional Superintendent of Schools Triantafillos "Tom" Parlapanides agreed.

“If you want a district, then you should apply for choice and do it legally,” he said.

Board Business Administrator Kevin O’Shea commended Coleman for her work on the board.

“She proved that you can come to Central and make a positive change and not file a lawsuit to do so … that one representative can make a very big  difference,” he said.

Seaside Park has been a sending district of the Central Regional school district since Central Regional was formed back in 1954. Prior to that, Seaside Park students went to Toms River schools. But the Toms River district grew so quickly, there was no longer any room for Seaside Park students. So they ended up going to Central Regional.

Until 1976, Seaside Park paid Central Regional through the "turnstile" method, Frank Campbell, special counsel for the Township Council, has said.

But things changed in 1976, after the state Legislature changed the tuition payment method for regional school districts from head counts to a formula based on an individual town's property values. The tuition payment change was gradually phased in over a five-year period, Campbell has said.

Seaside Park later filed suit against Central Regional in 2007, claiming that the tuition method was unconstitutional. But a judge later ruled against Seaside Park and dismissed the case. Thirteen individual Seaside Park residents appealed the ruling in October 2010. The matter is still pending.

skizma April 20, 2011 at 12:26 PM
no way. EVERYONE pays school taxes. How can they get out of paying still for Central. They are still a member of Central Regional school district, therefore they still pay central taxes. They just don't have to pay extra to go to TR. That's how it should be. who said they don't pay the Central Taxes? TR can't say that. That's why you have votes for a town to be allowed to leave a district and that hasn't happened. Somethings wrong here with the inference.
Tired of the status quo April 20, 2011 at 02:04 PM
All of you out here who think that Toms River is getting the money or Toms River is getting a great deal. Come on now. The taxpayers of Toms River are privileged enough to pay for at the very least 9 students from Seaside Park. No where is the ANY and I repeat ANY money for those students! I don't know what Central Regional is doing with that money or who in Seaside is hiding that money but we the residents and taxpayers of Toms River are not receiving any money for them. We the residents of Toms River were NEVER told about this little back room deal that one Michael J. RItacco and one Carol Kane and the rest of the Seaside Park BOE made to send these children here to Toms River. It was only after this deal was made with the SSP BOE were we the taxpayers of Toms River even told about it. We were told that it was going to be such a WONDERFUL deal for all sides involved. The only people who seem to be getting the great deal is the residents of Seaside Park. Why you may ask? Well, here is the answer that I and many taxpayers of Toms River feel...the taxes in Seaside Park are going down while the school taxes here in Toms River are going to go up AGAIN!!!! And now with all of these lawsuits that are being brought to court the only people who are going to win here are the school board attorneys, not the taxpayers of either Toms River or Seaside Park and most of all the biggest losers are the children. After all it is "FOR THE CHILDREN" isn't it?
Mr. ? April 20, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Well Skizma, that comes under the title of redistricting. Maybe under the program of vouchers. Either way no one can dispute the proximity of SSP to Toms River and that it makes sense to SSP students to come here if there is room. But the courts said SSP could not leave the Central district. The problem with all of this is, what is the equitable financial formula to send and receive children to different districts? First the state aid should follow the student, but then the district from where the child came from loses. Then the tuition "rate". Is it the cost per child in the receiving district or the cost per child from where the student came from? Imagine that scenario! I cant not believe 70k is the cost to educate a student at Central. Is that correct? If so, something wrong there. Another problem is that the tuition to be collected can be any arbitrary amount, lets say $2000. if that is part of the agreement. How can this ever be solved and be fair to all. You live where you live, and you can move now, cant you. Plenty of houses for sale in TR except those SSPer's will have to leave the beach....but their taxes just went down and TR's are going up!...maybe
charlotte June 03, 2011 at 08:16 PM
We should go back to "per pupil" but with the parents paying the tab (and the availability of financial aid for economically disadvantaged families). Property (school) taxes are inequitable within the regional district.
mp July 26, 2011 at 12:07 AM
seems to me that the wool was pulled over Toms River taxpayers eyes big time by past admin. TR taxpayers should be the only ones furious over this whole ordeal (because they educated these kids for free) as well as the other 4 sending districts to Central because all legal fees that they will have to shoulder from all this crap falls on their families all because of a handful of **(not nice word) residents of SSP.... SSP not cool at all .. and of course its just a small number of them and their BOE representatives for the past few years are the ones mainly to blame.. It is all a disgrace and the kids are going to suffer... so sick of hearing "its for the kids" nothing in school politics ever benefits the kids!!!


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