Officials in Seaside Park are beginning to plan for future uses of the former Seaside Park Elementary School, which is rarely utilized and experiencing some deterioration.
“We have had the start of a very productive dialogue about jointly rehabbing what is now a somewhat run-down or dilapidated macadam surface that needs work at the school,” said Mayor John A. Peterson. “We’ve had some requests here, in the summer especially, to add pickleball courts there.”
The school was closed following the 2009-10 school year due to concerns over the cost of operating the district with a dwindling number of students. The district was spending about $37,000 per student to educate children in town, whereas a shared services agreement with Toms River Regional schools reduced the per-student cost by about two-thirds. The agreement was renewed following the 2013-14 school year. Middle school and high school students attend classes in the Central Regional district, based in Bayville.
Though the school was closed, the district still exists as what is known as a “non-operating district,” with a volunteer school board that oversees the physical school building and the shared services agreement.
“The playground is taped off with police tape now, as the equipment there was shaky in terms of whether it can be used by the children,” said Peterson. “The school board felt it was appropriate to keep the dialogue going and get a proposal on how we might proceed – alternate uses, courtesy toward the neighboring residents, plantings – it was all on the table.”
The borough council voted in favor of appropriating $5,000 toward “startup” legal and engineering services to help plan future improvements.