SEA ISLE CITY — A typical homeowner’s school taxes could drop $151 as the non-operating district moves into the second year of sending most of its 112 K-12 students to Ocean City schools.

Property taxes for the owner of a home with the average assessment of $724,315 will be about $367 under the Sea Isle City School District’s proposed 2013-14 school year budget.

The new tax rate will be 5 cents per $100 of assessed value, a 2-cent — or nearly 29 percent — reduction on the rate in the current budget, which was approved prior to the school closing last June.

The tax levy for the 2013-14 school year will fall by nearly $1 million, or 28 percent in the proposed $2.9 million budget. The plan will include a less than $2.5 million tax levy to pay for nearly $1.9 million in tuition to other districts and $475,800 in transportation costs.

Thirteen employees, including nine teachers, one custodian, a nurse and a secretary, lost their jobs because of the closing of the school. The district continues to pay for an assistant business administrator.

Sea Isle’s municipal government recently hired the district’s remaining school custodian and the city plans to take control of the elementary school building this spring because it has already housed municipal offices since Hurricane Sandy.

The school district’s tax reduction will also more than offset a proposed 1.9-cent increase being proposed by the municipal government.

Board of Education President Dan Tumolo said the primary reason that the board moved to expand its sending and receiving relationship with Ocean City last year was to give the children better educational opportunities — but money mattered, too.

“I think the key that started us to do this four years ago was that we just felt that there were tremendous resources in Ocean City and we weren’t taking advantage of them,” he said.

He also said that “reducing costs was a secondary element of closing the school, and you’re seeing it played out now.”

There were only 23 students attending Sea Isle City Elementary School in grade K-3 before it closed. The district had steadily sent more students to Ocean City schools over time.

Now, about 93 Sea Isle public school students in grades K-12 attend Ocean City schools, while three students attend Charter Tech, three attend Cape May County Technical School District and five attend Cape May County Special Services School District.

Tumolo acknowledged that closing the school at the end of the ’11-’12 school year was very controversial at the time, with more than a few parents expressing their outrage at board meetings.

“It was very, very difficult on them,” he said about families losing their quaint, small school building within walking distance of some homes.

Still, he said the move has proven to be a success, shown both in how happy the students are in their new schools and with the reduction in taxes.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, in the old elementary school and current city hall at 4501 Park Road. The budget has to also be approved by the county and state Department of Education.

Contact Lee Procida:

609-463-6712

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