Consolidating school districts pros cons

"Every single one of those communities has to vote ‘yes' for it to happen," Ropars said."In this kind of operation, there's going to be winners or losers, and the people who are going to be the losers aren't going to vote yes." Among the other issues entailed are the apportionment of operating costs and debt among communities in a newly formed regional district."A countywide (arrangement) in my opinion is not likely to work," Fancher said, "but do I think it's a dead issue?No, and I think it's a discussion we need to keep having -- but to just say if we cut off the heads of the top two people at every school and combine districts it will save us money, it doesn't work like that." Bozza said he wasn't taking a position for or against regionalization, but rather offering the benefits of "our experience, expertise and knowledge to say: What are the challenges? And I'm glad you're all here." Ropars echoed the point: "You need to know what the reality is," he said."For us, I can happily report that it's working, but I can't suggest that in all cases it's going to be as easy for others," Muenker said.The point was echoed again and again Wednesday by the other panelists, who included John Ropars, a representative of the New Jersey Education Association; Michael Vrancik, director of governmental relations for the New Jersey School Boards Association; and Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.The costs of that are astounding." Ropars noted that under current state law, merging school districts would also require voters in every community included in the proposed merger to approve it in a referendum.

"Kids may now be on a bus going to a school not in their area, not in their town, and not in their neighborhood for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.

And the voters' decision should come only after thorough study of the economic and educational impact of a merger." Current state law, in fact, requires a feasibility study of the pros and cons of entering into any merger involving regionalization or send-receive -- a hybrid arrangement that theoretically preserves some of the benefits of home rule in an otherwise regional setup -- before the process can advance.

"And typically," Vrancik said, "these feasibility studies cost at least ,000." Hespe, however, suggested the cost of the study itself was not nearly as significant a barrier to merging school districts as some believed.

C., and former New Jersey Commmissioner of Education, listens at the Sussex County School Boards Forum at Sparta High School in Sparta, December 6, 2017.

Photo by Warren Westura/New Jersey Herald — From left, Richard Vohden, former Sussex County freeholder and Marie Bilik, former executive director, New Jersey School Boards Association, listen to comments at the Sussex County School Boards Forum at Sparta High School in Sparta, December 6, 2017.

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