New Harvey Cedars Representative Aims to Bring Objectivity to LBI School Board

“Maybe I Can Be the Mediator,” Says Fred Schragger
By Juliet Kaszas-Hoch | Dec 18, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill Fred Schragger

Long Beach Island, NJ — Come January, the Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education will look just a bit different. Brielle Hoffacker is taking over one of the Long Beach Township seats after edging out longtime member Bonnie Picaro in the November vote, and Frederic J. Schragger will step in as the new Harvey Cedars representative, as James Donehower vacates the seat for the Southern Regional Board of Education.

Schragger decided to campaign as a write-in candidate not long before the election after attending board meetings, as well as meetings about the Dec. 10 referendum for repairs to the LBI Grade School. The question of consolidation – whether to keep both the LBI School, in Ship Bottom, and the Ethel A. Jacobsen Elementary School, in Surf City, or to merge the district into just one of the facilities, and sell the other – has brought much contention to recent meetings.

“Maybe I can be the mediator,” said Schragger. He added, “My first priority is what is to the benefit of the kids.”

Schragger, 77, was born in Lakewood. His family subsequently moved to Trenton, where he attended the city’s public schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Lehigh University, then enrolled at Seton Hall Law School.

After earning his law degree, Schragger clerked for a judge, worked for a family firm, and eventually went out on his own. He’s been the attorney for various municipalities, has a depth of knowledge of construction-related law, and now, as he’s scaled back to part time, he does mostly real estate and commercial law, as well as estate planning. And there is, and has always been, a lot of law talk at family gatherings, as Schragger’s father was an attorney, as are his brother, two of his sons and two of his sons’ wives.

This law background, Schragger believes, will serve him well as a member of the school board at this time.

In addition to his professional experience, he aims to bring an open mind, a lack of bias, to the situation. “I want to take the politics out of it,” he stated. “I got involved thinking I could sit there and study this with everyone, and really figure out what is best. ... I want what’s best for the kids.”

On Monday, sitting in Scojo’s in Surf City – where he is, very clearly, a regular – Schragger, friendly and gregarious, spoke about his connection to LBI and his love of the community. Fifty-two years ago Schragger’s father bought the house in Harvey Cedars where he and his wife, Arlene, now live, mostly full-time, as they spend a segment of the winter in Utah, skiing and working remotely.

The Schraggers were very involved with the Jewish community center in Trenton, and Fred previously sat on the board of the JCC of Long Beach Island. The couple is also active with Interfaith Health and Support Services of Southern Ocean County, which “provides volunteer physical, emotional and spiritual support to those living at home who are vulnerable because of age or disability,” as the nonprofit’s website explains.

As Schragger said, “Two months ago I didn’t know that I’d be doing this,” but now, in his partial retirement, with time to devote to the important issue of education for local children, he hopes he can work with his fellow board members to compare – “apples to apples” – the two existing schools, and decide on the very best plan for the kids and the community.

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

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