This action involves a challenge to the manner of apportioning membership of the Shore Regional High School Board of Education. The regional district comprises the Boroughs of Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Sea Bright and West Long Branch.*fn1 The total membership of the Board (N.J.S.A. 18A:13-8) is nine, presently apportioned as follows: Monmouth Beach -- 1; Oceanport -- 3; Sea Bright -- 1; West Long Branch -- 4. That apportionment is based on 1970 census figures.
N.J.S.A. 18A:13-9 provides that the apportionment of the seats amongst constituent districts "shall continue in effect unless and until a re-apportionment shall become necessary by
reason of the official promulgation of the next federal census" and, in such case, "immediately after the promulgation of said census . . . the County Superintendent . . . in which the constituent districts are situate shall re-apportion members accordingly." N.J.S.A. 18A:13-9 further provides that "if any constituent districts shall become entitled to increased representation on the board the additional members shall be elected at the next annual school election of the regional district," which in this case was scheduled for April 6, 1982. N.J.S.A. 18A:14-2.*fn2
On February 11, 1982 defendant Milton Hughes, the Superintendent of Schools for Monmouth County, notified the Shore Regional School Board that, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:13-9 and because the 1980 federal census had been officially promulgated for the State of New Jersey as of January 18, 1982, plaintiff Borough of Oceanport's representation on the Shore Regional Board was to be reduced from three seats to two and the representation of the Borough of Monmouth Beach was to be increased from one seat to two.
N.J.S.A. 18A:13-8 provides that in making the apportionment or reapportionment of seats, as the case may be, amongst the constituent school districts, "there shall be subtracted from the number of inhabitants of a constituent school district . . . the number of such inhabitants who according to the records of the Federal Bureau of the Census . . . are military personnel stationed at, or civilians residing within the limits of, any United States Army, Navy, or Air Force installation located in such constituent district." Located within the Borough of Oceanport is a portion of Fort Monmouth, a United States Army installation.
Subsequent to the promulgation of the 1970 Federal Census, the County Superintendent of Schools performed the statistical
exercise provided for in N.J.S.A. 18A:13-8 and N.J.S.A. 18A:13-9. According to the Federal Bureau of the Census, the official population for the Borough of Oceanport as of April 1, 1970 was 7,503, of which the County Superintendent determined that 2,770 were either military personnel stationed at or civilians residing within the Fort Monmouth portions of Oceanport.
Although the 1980 census count of 5,888 for Oceanport became official as of January 18, 1982, the census data necessary to determine the number of military personnel stationed at or civilians residing within the Oceanport portions of Fort Monmouth has not been released by the Federal Bureau of the Census and is not expected to be available for some time. Realizing that this essential information was lacking, the State Department of Education solicited the opinion of the Attorney General as to how regional school districts containing military installation were to handle reapportionment under the 1980 census. He advised that in the absence of the necessary 1980 data as to military or civilian personnel, they were to utilize the figures that had been promulgated in that regard for the 1970 census. Defendant Hughes accordingly subtracted 2,770 from 5,888 and determined that Oceanport's effective population for the purpose of school board representation was 3,118. Using that figure and 1980 census figures for the other members of the district led to the challenged reapportionment of representative seats on the Board.
Plaintiff Valencia is a current member of the regional board from Oceanport. If the reapportionment directed by the County Superintendent takes effect, it is her seat which will be lost by Oceanport and added to Monmouth Beach. She alleges that in deducting the 1970 census figures for military population at Fort Monmouth from the total 1980 census figures for Oceanport the Superintendent erred because the 1980 census figures for military population at Fort Monmouth, when promulgated, ...