The cost to taxpayers to send each student to high school in the resort town of Seaside Park, N.J. is $112,000 -- double the tuition at Harvard's medical school, notes the Vineland Daily Journal.
The town spent about $4.4 million to send 40 students to Central Regional Intermediate and High Schools this year, 10 times the state average, largely due to New Jersey's property tax system and school funding laws, the paper reports.
“We are the poster child of bad legislation in school funding, but we don’t have the population of votes for anybody to care,” said Bob Martucci, the borough’s administrator. “People look in disbelief and say, ‘How can that even happen?’ The [state] funding formula allows that to happen.”
If Seaside Park paid tuition to send its students to schools in the neighboring Toms River Regional district, it would cost $10, 000 per student annually, just 9 percent of what taxpayers pay now to Central Regional.
But Seaside Park residents have quite a history with Toms River, as the two communities have been embroiled in years-long legal battles. An extensive disagreement finally concluded last summer when the Toms River Regional school board members agreed to allow a small group of Seaside Park students to attend Toms River schools for $10,000 a year. The students were previously attending Toms River schools tuition-free under a 2008 agreement, Toms River Patch reported.
The current cost for Seaside Park students is also almost three times the rate at some of the country's most elite private schools -- tuition tops $40,000 at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, for example. While 16 percent of Central Regional's property tax money comes from Seaside Park residents, the community only comprises 2.3 percent of Central Regional's population, Martucci told the Daily Journal.
According to state figures, New Jersey currently ranks 3rd in the country in school expenditures per student -- $17,836 -- spending more than 60 percent above the national average.