For a great example of the challenges inherent in consolidation of local school districts, look to Oradell’s campaign to withdraw from their partnership with River Edge that forms the River Dell Regional School District in Bergen County.
Right now, Oradell taxpayers cough up $5,700 more per child than taxpayers in River Edge, although technically tax levies are based on property values in each town, rather than per-pupil cost. But if Oradell gets the thumbs-up on secession, River Edge would drown in debt. According to NorthJersey,
The district would take on about $10 million in debt from the regional district and inherit a middle school that officials have estimated will need $24 million in future upgrades, according to legal briefs submitted in the case.
If you’re a gambler, put your money on a big fat “no” to the de-consolidation, since neither district is K-12 and Executive County Superintendents have been given their marching orders: offer up plans to the DOE to create K-12 regional districts by March 2010. Nonetheless, these funding disparities point to a basic roadblock in the DOE’s mandate: how will we square the multiple money issues in targeted towns, especially when the law gives any town the right to opt out?