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.