A battle over a school district involving one of New Jersey's most famous shore communities could be decided by voters.
Cape May is seeking to leave the school district it shares with Lower Township and West Cape May. Cape May residents have complained that while the town supplies the district with about 5 percent of its students, it provides one-third of the district's tax revenue. That's because Cape May's real estate values are higher and there are fewer families with children there.
Cape May's city council last week voted unanimously to petition the state Department of Education to hold a binding referendum later this year. The deadline for filing the petition is April 10, and all parties would have 15 days from that date to file a response.
The Press of Atlantic City reports Lower Township faces tax increases if Cape May's effort is successful, and the town is fighting the initiative.
A board of review set up by the state Department of Education could deny Cape May's petition if it decides there would be an excessive debt burden for the remaining towns, for example. Cape May Deputy Mayor Jack Wichterman told the newspaper that a board of review recently allowed a vote in a similar petition in Bergen County, where the town of Woodcliff Lake is seeking to leave the Pascack Valley Regional High School District.
Wichterman said he doesn't expect there to be enough votes to dissolve the Lower Cape May School District, but that getting the issue before a court could help spur changes in the funding formula.