Atlantic County voters rejected vo-tech expansion

I think everyone can agree that ACIT’s curriculum is dynamic and student population diversity is what we look for in all Atlantic County schools.

The grant in question is for capital expenditures — to build more facilities. It’s for athletic fields and to add programs that would increase enrollment to more than 2,000 students (currently 1,661).

The referendum that provides this funding was approved in the state, but failed in Atlantic County. Atlantic County taxpayers said no. Its population has been declining since Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and five Atlantic City hotels closed 2014-15. The 2010 U.S. Census showed its population was 274,549. The 2018 Census Bureau estimate showed a decrease of 9,120 to 265,429. When people lost their jobs and moved away, they took their children with them. The county doesn’t have the population to warrant an additional high school.

Greater Egg Harbor Regional, Pleasantville and Egg Harbor Township school districts all passed resolutions asking for research to be completed before committing to this project.

Vocational schools in N.J. don’t have the year-over-year 2% cap that other schools must use. Another unintended consequence to the expansion of ACIT is that sending schools losing enrollment may have layoffs.

In 2017 and 2018, projected Greater Egg Harbor Regional tuition at ACIT was adjusted up by 58% and 47%, respectively. Tuition certification takes one to two years after the end of the school year, so Greater Egg, for example, will have an adjusted bill for the 2018-19 school year in 2021, after the books are closed. Then taxpayers have an adjustment.

When I brought this up in August, the freeholders’ education committee proposed meeting with superintendents to resolve the issue. The superintendents I’ve communicated with are shocked that we are having this discussion with unresolved questions and concerns. Besides the enrollment and tuition issues, the 25% match to be paid by Atlantic County taxpayers will be upwards of $10 million.

When school districts want to renovate or build new schools, a referendum goes on the ballot and taxpayers make their choices. This was on the ballot in Atlantic County and it was defeated.

Caren Fitzpatrick

Linwood

Atlantic County freeholder

Holiday act of kindness

My wife and I were alone on Thanksgiving. I went to a restaurant for two dinners. When I ordered, they asked me where my wife was. I said she was home recovering from a very bad operation. When I received the food, I went to pay and they said, “It’s free of charge.”

The people of that restaurant made Thanksgiving a better day for us.

Suzanne and Wayne Jackson

Egg Harbor Township

Park diagonally in lots

Regarding the recent story about the Galloway Township supermarket with a small parking lot: There are the same problems in my area.

A supermarket in Tuckerton reconfigured its lot several years ago and unless you have a compact car, you will struggle to pull in or out of the spaces in that lot. What might be worse is a chain store in Manahawkin. A lot of the vehicles to shop there are large pickup trucks and it’s quite a show to see their poor drivers trying to park in a single spot. The aisles are so narrow, it’s hard to pull into a spot with a car, let alone a truck.

I’ve often wondered why lots in New Jersey don’t use diagonal parking with one way lanes like most other states do. I think that sure would be a lot safer. I often think that the N.J. motto should be, “If it worked 50 years ago, it’ll work now.”

Steve Strenner

Tuckerton

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