On appeal from the final decision of the State Board of Education.
Matthews, Antell and Francis.
The Board of Education of the Township of Egg Harbor (Egg Harbor) appeals from a final decision of the State Board of Education involving the division of assets and liabilities of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District upon Egg Harbor's withdrawal from that district.
Prior to June 30, 1979 the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District (Regional District), which is a limited purpose regional school district, was comprised of five member local districts. The Regional District owned one building located in Hamilton Township. On October 25, 1976, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:13-51, Egg Harbor resolved to apply to the Atlantic County Superintendent (Superintendent) [to request him] to investigate the advisability of Egg Harbor's withdrawal from the Regional District. Such an application is the first step in the process of withdrawal set forth in N.J.S.A. 18A:13-51 to 18A:13-65.
The Superintendent, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:13-52, issued his report on March 16, 1977:
Report of county superintendent. The county superintendent shall, within 60 days after such request, file with the governing bodies of the municipalities constituting the regional district and the boards of education of all of the constituent school districts and the board of education of the regional school district a report containing a statement of the current assets and operating expenses of the regional district for the then current year and such financial, educational and other information as he may deem necessary to enable said governing bodies and local boards of education and regional board of education to form an intelligent judgment as to the advisability of the proposed withdrawal
and the effect thereof upon the educational and financial condition of the withdrawing district and the regional district and setting forth the amount of indebtedness, if any, to be assumed by the withdrawing and the regional districts, calculated as hereinafter provided.
Item X of the Superintendent's report set forth the "Amount of Indebtedness to be Assumed." It listed each constituent district's share of the Regional District's "debt service" for 1976-1977 and then listed the share of the 1976-1977 "debt service" that each district would have been required to pay, if Egg Harbor had not been a member of the Regional District during that school year.
Item XI of the Superintendent's Report was entitled "Assets and Liabilities." Here the Superintendent noticed that if Egg Harbor's withdrawal was approved, N.J.S.A. 18A:13-62 would require him to make a report and to divide the Regional District's assets and liabilities in the following manner, as provided in N.J.S.A. 18A:8-24:
The county superintendent in a written report filed by him at the end of the school year preceding that in which the new district is created shall make a division of the assets, except school buildings, grounds, furnishings and equipment, and of the liabilities, other than the bonded indebtedness of the original district, between the new district and the remaining district on the basis of the amount of the ratables in the respective districts on which the last school tax was levied, and in determining the amount of assets to be divided, he shall take into account the present value of the school books, supplies, fuel, motor vehicles and all personal property other than furnishings and equipment. In the case of any vehicle used for the transportation of school children, the original cost of the vehicle, less any state aid appropriated therefor, shall be deemed to be the present value.
The Superintendent noted that based on 1976-1977 statistics Egg Harbor would be entitled to 31.65% of the assets and responsible for 31.65% of the liabilities. He concluded:
It would be appropriate for the division of assets and liabilities to be made based upon the following:
1. The remaining Districts would assume the remaining debt service and ...