Assemblyman: Fort Housing to Have 'No Impact' on Oceanport Schools

Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon assured the Oceanport Board of Education Thursday that the pending temporary housing won't impair the district.

Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon tried to put to rest concerns Thursday night about the Oceanport School District having to take in students whose families take advantage of the temporary housing at Fort Monmouth.

"Bottom line: There will be literally no impact on [Oceanport's] budget," he said at the Nov. 29 Oceanport Board of Education meeting. The state announced Wednesday that work is under way at the fort to house those displaced by Superstorm Sandy, but on a much smaller scale than previously announced.

The District 13 assemblyman cited a few reasons why he was confident that the Oceanport district, which already absorbed students from Monmouth Beach whose school suffered severe damage during the storm, would not be required to educate additional children.

"You could probably make a case that you're at capacity," he said of the 38 kindergarten and preschool students from Monmouth Beach that took over two classrooms at Wolf Hill School following the storm.

The McKinney-Vento Act, which is a federal law that provides homeless children with access to their home school districts, would be applicable to the Fort Monmouth housing, O'Scanlon said. He added that the proximity of many of those displaced in the Bayshore area who would take advantage of fort housing would facilitate their transportation to their home districts.

In speaking with many of the families in his district who have been displaced, the assemblyman said the majority want their children to remain in their own districts. "I haven't met anyone who says they want to go to Oceanport," he said, but noted that they do have the right to choose the district.

In the event some families do opt to send their children to Oceanport schools, O'Scanlon said it would likely just be a few students per grade and that their home districts could be petitioned at the end of the year to cover those tuition costs.

"We will make sure that the education of Oceanport kids is not negatively affected," he said, addressing concerns of overcrowding.

O'Scanlon said that the 45 housing units planned for the fort would likely grow but that the overall number of students requiring an education would be "manageable," estimating an 18-month duration.

"All they want to do is go home," he said of those displaced by Sandy.

Marina December 01, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Is this the reason everyone is dragging their feet in getting these people housed at the fort?
Dentss Dunnagun December 01, 2012 at 09:41 AM
What will the people of Oceanport do with all the "vote yes it's for the kids" signs now ?......of course we all knew it was never about the kids anyway ....
Jay Coffey December 01, 2012 at 01:31 PM
"I have spoken" and "Dents Dunnagun" both make vaild observations, but the bigger questions is why we should believe anything our elected officials tell us? While Mr. O'Scanlon may have been told that none of the students would be availing themselves of the Oceanport School System at this juncture, that could change if the "temporary" housing becomes permanent. And who really knows how long these temporary arrangements will last? Mr. O'Scanlon certainly doesn't. And that's the problem. Nobody has really quantified or analyzed the fiscal impact of this whole plan of action. The politicians are going to say, "See! We fixed the displaced person problem. We gave them housing. What's the next thing we can put out a press release about?" But the politicians aren't going to stick around long enough to have to actually address the practical problems of implementing everything. Mr. O'Scanlon was merely playing the part of Kevin Bacon in Animal House, raising his arms and exclaiming, "Remain calm! All is well." while everything around him is in turmoil. But it will be the residents of Oceanport, our elected officials, our teachers, our police department, our public works department, our volunteer fire department, etc. who will have to grapple with the plan's practical implementation. Oceanport is ready, willing and able to take on the task, we just don't need Mr. O'Scanlon telling us it is raining outside when only our leg is getting wet.
Jay Coffey December 01, 2012 at 02:24 PM
And while I am at it, how many people knew that Mr. O'Scanlon was going to be at the Oceanport Board of Education meeting? The Oceanport Board of Education's meeting agenda didn't mention anything about it and there was no press release issued beforehand. What's more, Mr. O'Scanlon gave his report to two reporters, the Oceanport Board of Education and about four residents and there was no real chance that he was going to be questioned about his comments, because most of Oceanport's residents were at the FEMA meeting at Maple Place. So, essentially, Mr. O'Scanlon knew he was going to be speaking to an empty room and wouldn't face any real questions. I'd like the Board to invite him back to the December meeting. In fact, as a citizen, I'd like to invite Mr. O'Scanlon to attend either of the December Board of Education meetings (second and third Thursday of the month), so that he can field substantive questions about the Fort Monmouth housing proposal. I am sure that the Board would allow him to speak again and answer some questions.
Jay Coffey December 04, 2012 at 10:43 PM
For the record, and to be absolutely fair to Declan O'Scanlon, it wasn't his fault that he was invited to a meeting at which there were only a handful of people in attendance. He had absolutely no knowledge of the fact that meeting was moved to Wolf Hill School and/or conflicted with the FEMA meeting at Maple Place School. Having just spoken to Mr. O'Scanlon, I now understand that he had no prior knowledge of how attendance was going to be affected by the FEMA meeting conflict and, for that, I apologize. Everything else I wrote, however, still stands.


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