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Resignation Could Save Teaching Jobs as Cape Enrollment Declines

By Jack Fichter

 The school and neighboring Cape May Elementary School are battling declining enrollment spurred by rocketing real estate prices that are believed to be discouraging families with children from moving to the towns.
“Young families can’t afford to move into this area any more,” Lamborne told the Herald.
Cape May Elementary school enrollment has dropped from 221 in December 2003, to a current population of 146. West Cape May’s enrollment is down to 57.
An opening for a chief school administrator at West Cape May Elementary could offer a partial solution for Cape May Elementary, which is eliminating two teacher positions at the end of the school year. Chief School Administrator Victoria Zelenak will spend 20 percent of her hours as a teacher beginning in September.
In addition, Cape May Elementary School is making one full-time teacher’s job part time. The school’s business administrator, a clerk-typist, and physical education teacher would be cut to four-day work weeks.
The school’s PACE teacher, for gifted students, would change from full time to part time and a custodial position would be eliminated.
Before Lamborne was hired, the possibility of having Zelenak serve as chief school administrator, a position that combines principal and superintendent, for both schools was discussed and has again surfaced.
Lamborne said he spoke with Zelenak about that possibility. He said West Cape May’s school board asked him also to keep options open for a shared administrator with Lower Township Schools and Lower Cape May Regional School District as well.
“We are exploring if there are any administrators in any of these districts that have their CSA certification who would be able to pick this up on a part time basis,” said Lamborne.
West Cape May shares its business administrator with the county Special Services School District, he said.  
Lamborne said the school board “would try to narrow it down in the next couple of weeks.” Time is of the essence with both West Cape May and Cape May elementary school about to set their budgets for the 2006-2007 school year.
Zelenak told the Herald the Cape May school board has discussed sharing her services with West Cape May, but it has yet to progress beyond that stage, having just heard of Lamborne’s decision. Such an agreement would require the approval of both school boards.
“If it is something both boards want to do, I would step up to the plate,” said Zelenak.
She said such a situation “might” preserve teacher jobs at Cape May Elementary School.
Lamborne told the school board when he accepted his position, he intended to stay five to six years. He said he would retire after 40 years in education.
Lamborne, 62, told the Herald, coming to his decision to retire, he considered the financial condition of the school, with shrinking enrollment, and the effects of a devastating fire on his family home.
Last September, Lamborne lost his home in a condominium fire in Ventnor that destroyed all of his family’s possessions other than a few photographs. No one was injured.
“The more I thought about it, the more it made sense for all the reasons including the fact that I’m not sure how the district would have been able to keep me as a full-time school administrator,” he said.
Contact Fichter at (609) 886-8600 Ext 30 or jfichter@cmcherald.com

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