Students from Longport may start to attend Ocean City High School in September.
David Hespe, acting commissioner of the state Department of Education, ruled this week that the Longport Board of Education can terminate its long-standing sending agreement with Atlantic City High School.
Longport shares Absecon Island with Atlantic City, but Ocean City High School is closer to the borough and the Ocean City School District’s tuition would save Longport about $9,000 per student. Longport had appealed to the state to allow the switch.
For Ocean City, the change could mean a small number of new students from a sending district. Nine Longport residents attend Atlantic City High School.
It also could open up a small number of “School Choice” slots in the district. Some Longport residents attend Ocean City schools as part of the Choice program.
The School Choice program, now in its third year, allows out-of-district students to apply to attend Ocean City schools — with the state paying Ocean City $13,825 for each student. It has allowed the district to compensate for a shrinking school population and sustain programs without increasing taxes.
Total enrollment in the Ocean City School District fell from 2,248 in 2000 to 2,045 in 2010. The trend has been offset only by the addition of out-of-district students. Ocean City will receive $2.7 million from the state this year for School Choice tuition. Longport would pay tuition to Ocean City for any students it sends.
Ocean City Superintendent Kathleen Taylor said Thursday that the district had just received news of the state ruling and will meet with Longport officials next week to discuss details.
She said the district still has questions about how many Longport students would potentially move to Ocean City High School. There are 10 Longport residents finishing eighth grade this month, she said.
The Ocean City Board of Education would have to approve a five-year send-receive agreement with the Longport Board of Education, and the Ocean City board will consider the measure at a public meeting scheduled for June 25.
“We’re honored that Longport would want to send students to us,” Taylor said.