The decision to stay or go will now rest on the shoulders of voters. The Department of Education Board of Review voted unanimously to allow the residents to decide whether or not the City of Cape May will remain a part of the Lower Cape May Regional School District, a decision welcomed by both sides.
"Essentially the board saw it fit to in fact make sure the taxpayer had the opportunity to be heard, Lower Cape May Regional is also pleased with that decision," said Christopher Kobik, Superintendent of the Lower Cape May Regional School District.
"We can hardly think of an issue more significant to a community than how it’s tax dollars are spent and how it’s children are educated so the Board of Review knew what it was doing today when it said this is something it should decide for itself," said Vito A. Gagliardi Jr., an Attorney representing the City of Cape May.
Prior to the Board of Review making its decision, each side presented its case. Representatives from the City of Cape May say the current system is too much of a burden on city tax payers and called for a change in the current funding formula.
"The bottom line is tax payers of the City of Cape May are paying 5 million dollars more if the old system would have been left in tact," said Gagliardi.
But officials from the school district argue that Cape May’s departure would put the students at risk.
"If in fact Cape May City is successful, it will have a tremendous impact the quality of education that does exist for students from all 3 municipalities," said Kobik.
School district officials say their ability to renew debt and make improvements is another stumbling block.
Representatives from Cape May say if the referendum to change the funding is not successful, they will move forward with an additional referendum to leave the district all together.
"If that vote isn't favorable,” said Gagliardi. “I would expect this vote, the vote to allow Cape May out of the regional school district to come some time after that, some time in early 2015."
Officials say the vote to adjust the funding formula will take place in the fall.
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