By Neil Schulman
Oceanport — Later this year, the Board of Education plans to ask voters to approve a $29 million project to completely rebuild the Wolf Hill School and make major upgrades to Maple Place.
“Wolf Hill School needs $12 million in repairs right now. I can’t think it’s a fair investment,” McVitty said. “The Band-Aids have to stop on that building; it’s bad.”
The board believes that the current Wolf Hill school could be torn down, and a new facility, better designed to handle education in the 21st century, could be built.
The total cost of this would be around $24 million. However, the state of New Jersey would reimburse Oceanport for some of the construction expenses.
McVitty said that at the same time, the Board would like to see approximately $5 million worth of upgrades made to the Maple Place School.
Because Maple Place is a single level building, which is considered good for elementary school age students, when the two buildings reopened, kindergarten through fifth grade would be housed at Maple Place. Grades six to eight, which could take better advantage of the higher technology available in the all new school, would be moved to Wolf Hill.
The names of the schools would not change, McVitty said.
A referendum is planned for December, and McVitty said there would be presentations to council and the public before then. He was at the meeting as a member of the public, not to give a formal presentation.
When asked if the Board of Education had considered moving the school, permanently or temporarily, onto theFort Monmouth land, McVitty replied “absolutely not.”
When the fort closed, the Board had requested from FMERA, the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, that property tentatively designated for a new school be given to them as a “public benefit conveyance.”
The board was told it would have to buy the land, and the price would be expensive — $2,000 an acre more than CommVault was paying for its land in Tinton Falls.
McVitty added that what’s opened, or is planning to open, on the fort near where the school was planned has also hurt interest.
“I’d be booed out of town if I put an elementary school next to a rehab program, let alone a homeless shelter,” McVitty said.
Mayor Michael Mahon said that if voters approve the new school, balancing the borough’s financing might be complicated. There is a limit to how much the borough can borrow through bonds, and Oceanport also needs to build a new Borough Hall to replace the one badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy.