Should some N.J. school districts merge? The state is offering money to find out.

Should some N.J. school districts merge? The state is offering money to find out.

1/23/2022 5:03:00 PM

Should some N.J. school districts merge? The state is offering money to find out.

New Jersey has about 600 school districts, more than the total number of municipalities in the state.

Some Salem and state officials said they were open to considering a county-wide consolidation plan.“Salem is the smallest county in the state. It’s a logical starting point to at least study and look at this,” then-state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, whose legislative district included Salem County, said when the county commissioned the study.

He also said Sussex and Hunterdon counties, relatively large counties with low populations, were also good candidates for possible school regionalization.Sweeney, who was recently voted out of office, was one the sponsors of the bill creating the new grant program for other school districts to study ways to merge and consolidate. He had been a longtime proponent of regionalizing schools, including smaller districts that operate only K-5 or K-8 schools and already send their students to regional high schools.

Read more: njdotcom »

No, but Millburn, Livingston, The Caldwell’s, Verona and West Orange should split off from Essex County in a new one called “West Essex County” Yes, but won’t happen. Nothing is woven deeper into Jersey culture than home rule. My town looked at creating a library with the neighboring town and you would’ve thought people were being asked to give up all worldly possessions and never see their families again.

by state and local officials. Some Salem and state officials said they were open to considering a county-wide consolidation plan. “Salem is the smallest county in the state. It’s a logical starting point to at least study and look at this,” then-state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, whose legislative district included Salem County, said when the county commissioned the study. He also said Sussex and Hunterdon counties, relatively large counties with low populations, were also good candidates for possible school regionalization. Sweeney, who was recently voted out of office, was one the sponsors of the bill creating the new grant program for other school districts to study ways to merge and consolidate. He had been a longtime proponent of regionalizing schools, including smaller districts that operate only K-5 or K-8 schools and already send their students to regional high schools. Critics say the overabundance of school districts in New Jersey — which all have their own superintendents, administrative staff, contracts and curriculum — drives up operating budgets and contributes to some of the highest per-pupil costs in the nation. Most of that money comes from local school taxes, which contribute to New Jersey’s high property taxes. In 2020, New Jerseyans paid an average of about $4,798 per homeowner in school taxes or a total of $16 billion statewide. The wealthiest communities paid the highest school taxes. Mountain Lakes in Morris County had the highest average school taxes in the state in 2020, about $15,033 per homeowner. That made up the majority of the average $21,625 tax bill in the borough. Though New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation, having hundreds of school districts may also help create racially segregated schools, critics say. Because students usually stay within their municipal borders for their entire K-12 education, they may go to mostly white or mostly Black or Hispanic elementary, middle and high schools, depending on where they live. Supporters of New Jersey’s current school districts say the local control has helped keep educators focused on the needs of local students and created one of the highest ranked school systems in the nation. They also say school districts with an intensely local focus create a better sense of community and often allow students to go to small neighborhood schools close to home. Several districts have regionalized or begun talking about mergers in recent years. In 2014, four school districts in Hunterdon County — the Stockton, West Amwell, Lambertville and South Hunterdon Regional High School districts — combined into one K-12 district after voters approved the