School districts wary of consolidation recommendation

Sea Girt Elementary School students enjoy a visit from an ice cream truck after the first day of school on Wednesday, Sept. 5. PHOTO BY MARK R. SULLIVAN

Local school officials are reacting warily to a legislative proposal for merging small elementary school districts in New Jersey into larger, regional districts.

While most district officials contacted by The Coast Star said they are open to discussing the recommendations, there is no sign that merger discussions are being undertaken by local boards of education.

Several officials pointed to New Jersey’s longtime embrace of home rule, even among the tiniest school districts, as an impediment to consolidation.

The school merger recommendation is just one of dozens contained in the sweeping “Path to Progress” draft report issued Aug. 8 by the New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup, empaneled by State Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The task force’s goal is to find ways to improve New Jersey’s fiscal stability, curb rising property taxes and reduce inefficiencies at all levels of government.

For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.