Elizabeth Norton
A Champion of Hope for a Far Better World
Elizabeth Norton
A Champion of Hope for a Far Better World
Blog Post

An Open Letter to the Woodbine Elementary Board of Education Members

July 2, 2020 woodbine

(Because I was excluded from the public meeting that was held this month I have decided to not only email this letter to the BOE but also publish here for all to read and think over.  This is a local issue and I know I have readers from all over. I apologize that this has deviated from the content I normally post but I will NEVER apologize for being an advocate for my community.  I must do this.) 

Dear Woodbine Board of Education,

According to the Cape May Health Department, the Woodbine Elementary School building does NOT have any septic records or permits on file. This does not assure the Woodbine Elementary Students and their parents that adequate testing has been done to assure that wastewater is being disposed of properly and the clean water in our area has been protected. 

The CMC health department also informed me that there is nothing registered in the NJPDES system with the state of NJ that should protect the school grounds from contamination. 

For those that are unaware, a NJDEPS Permit is issued by the State of New Jersey, Department of Health.  This type of permit is for septic systems that have a flow of greater than 2,000 gallons per day.  Schools are classified as having a flow of greater than 2,000 gallons per day. 

Yes, the building is old but, the age of the building is not an excuse. Yes, the budget is minimal but that should never be an excuse either. There is a reason why permits and environmental tests exist.  These regulations are put in place to protect the public and in this case young minds depending on us to create a suitable learning environment.

The students of Woodbine are some of the most resilient little people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I can not believe, in this time and day, that there are students who have had to learn amongst the conditions of sewage leaking into their classrooms and up and down the hallways such as what happened on October 29th, 2018 and the week that followed.

The students lost a school day. The school was not professionally and properly cleaned afterwards. The things that I was not aware of during that time has lead me to realize that this situation demands a second look. There is so much unknown about the building and the lack of knowledge about the school’s septic issue, in itself, is dangerous.  It was suggested to me, by the CMC Department of Health, that an engineer be hired and work be done to the septic to not only assure that the septic can handle the kitchen waste providing 2 meals a day to 220(Approximately ) children and running toilets and water fountains. Should we take into account the Woodbine Recreation’s uses of the gym and the Cmc library extension Center wastewater storage too? 

I am not convinced the problem is fixed. This should NOT be a problem in 2020 in the United States of America.  This should never have happened to little learners in our community.

The problem isn’t going to disappear and the lack of knowledge of the system will be forever an issue until the Board of Education puts the children’s health and well-being above and before anything else. The children are watching us and learning from us. We all did not invest the time required in 2018 to let the children know that they are worth receiving a quality education in a clean environment. We have the opportunity to rectify the problem as we are learning more about what is under the ground at  801 Webster St., Woodbine, NJ 08270.  This community has a responsibility to its younger members.

I will be following up on this.  It is a problem that can no longer be put off. The WBOE needs to take steps to hire an engineer and move forward with fixing the problem in entirety. 


Elizabeth Norton Gray

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