Letter to the Editor: Clearing the Air on District Consolidation
Freehold Borough Board of Education President Annette Jordan responds to district consolidation discussion.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about consolidation of the Freehold Borough School district with the Township. As the Freehold Borough Board of Education president I would like to clear the air. This is not a new idea….The Board of Education has explored the idea several times…
The law regarding the consolidation of public school districts may be found at N.J.S.A. 18A. Here is how the process works:
1. The district wishing to consolidate its public school district into another public school district (in this case it would be Freehold Borough) must pass a resolution to move toward consolidation.
2. Freehold Borough Board of Education then approaches the Board of Education it wishes to consolidate into (this case Freehold Twp.) If Freehold Twp agrees, then it passes a similar resolution.
4. A feasibility study would then need to be conducted. The study would take several months to complete and consider issues such as; negotiated employment agreements, tenure and pension rights, employee health benefits, etc. The cost of the study would be between $50,000 and $75,000; a cost which the Freehold Borough Board of Education, ie the taxpayers of Freehold Borough would bear.
5. If the feasibility study is favorable for consolidation, then the matter is put to a vote by each Board of Education. It should be noted that Even if Freehold Borough Board of Education votes to move to consolidation, the Freehold Township Board of Education may still vote no.
6. If the Freehold Township Board of Education votes against consolidation at any point during the process, then the matter is closed.
It should be noted that although the consolidation of public school districts does pose the potential for economic savings, there is a real possibility that consolidation may cause overall costs and property taxes to actually increase as a result. Specifically, N.J.S.A. 18A:6-31.4 mandates that the teachers’ contracts that were in place in the largest district before consolidation become the new contracts for every teacher after consolidation. As such, should the largest district’s teachers’ contracts pay more than the other district, the cost of salaries would increase. Further, since the new board members may be composed by apportionment, there is the potential of larger district having more member representation on the new school board, which could diminish the voices of Freehold Borough residents when it comes to how our tax dollars are spent.
To date, the Freehold Borough Board of Education has not considered consolidation with the Freehold Township Board of Education to be beneficial to the District. However the Freehold Borough Board of Education is always looking for ways to save Borough taxpayers money while maintaining a quality education for our kids. Currently our school district has shared service agreements with The Freehold Twp Board of Education, the Borough of Freehold, ACES for our gas and electric and several purchasing co-ops.
Right now with the State failing to fund the School Funding formula our school district is $6 million dollars under funded. I encourage every resident of the Borough to contact our representatives in Trenton and ask them to vote to fund the current School Funding formula which mandates education tax dollars are distributed fairly to school districts.
The Board of Education will continue to look for opportunities to minimize educational costs, weather its expanding shared service, utilize advances in technology, or revising consolidation…we will do whatever it takes…while providing the children of Freehold Borough with a quality education.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite residents to visit our schools and see firsthand the wonderful job our dedicated staff is doing everyday. Please email me at email@example.com and I’ll set up a tour and a meeting with our team.
Freehold Borough of Education