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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 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 ajordanj@freeholdboro.k12.nj.us and I’ll set up a tour and a meeting with our team.

Thank you.

 

Annette Jordan

President

Freehold Borough of Education

Jane Healton June 05, 2012 at 01:31 PM
It is true that consolidation is not a new idea. It has been toyed with for many years and rejected continually each time for the reasons Mrs. Jordan has stated. Many stopgaps have been triedl in the intervening years the situation has worsened and worsened. Each time everyone thinks the district is at the end of its rope a few more inches are found to be used and the everyone in the district, from the board to the custodians are to be commended for the good they create. However, the end of the rope will truly come soon and the district will be in such a dire situation that only the state could take it over. Cautious and conservative action have not stopped the worsening situation so maybe it is time to go for big and bold action.
Joan Lorwey-Muenz June 05, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I've read all the previous comments and commend you on the courage of your convictions. We have been discussing this for years and the problem stems back to the "Home Rule" argument and the method of funding our schools. I have believed that all the services need to be controlled by the county if not at the state level and until the source of funding is removed from property taxes you will continue to hear that town residents have the right to direct exactly where their personal property taxes are spent. Good luck in your efforts. Joan Lorwey-Muenz
C Hauser June 06, 2012 at 04:56 AM
My dear Mike and boro pride , I am going to educate you on the matter of local youth rec sports programs. In many instances residential enrollment eligibility is generally mandated through the league. For example, little league governance disallows children to enroll from outside the local municipality. This is a league restriction put in place to prevent one municipality from recruiting "talent" from another municipality. This is put in place for fairness preventing a municipality from "stacking the deck" which players from outside their designated region . On the other hand, there are many boro children playing in the township pop warner football league. The boro flag football league from what I understand registers children from outside the boro. I am sure you already know that most boro children playing rec soccer in the township . The boro colonial basketball league takes in children from as far away as asbury park. So now you see that restrictions are NOT "anti-boro", in most instances it's the leagues discretiorn. Now I can we please discuss the matter of district consolidation?
Dana Turner June 06, 2012 at 10:43 AM
Their not there. Their zip code
Kirsten Raymond June 07, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Just a thought - before the Boro undertakes the $50,000 feasibility study - have there been any conversations with representatives from the township regarding this issue? This might help the powers that be determine if it is worthwhile to conduct the study. Granted, the study would be useful in such conversations - but an informal reaching out might shed some light on how the Township might feel about this. I know this isn't quite the protocol - but I am curious as to whether or not we have had any actual recent feedback from the township. Thanks for the clarity Annette!

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