Sunday Leftovers

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Eliminating School Districts Without Schools:

Eliminating 13 non-operating school districts in N.J. may seem like just grabbing the low-hanging fruit, but not according to the eliminatees. For example, Rocky Hill and Millstone, both of Somerset County, are suing the State for merging them with Montgomery and Hillsborough respectively, although that’s where their kids go anyway. (Here’s today’s Trenton Times piece.)

While New Jersey School Boards Association didn’t join the lawsuit, they oppose the legislation that allows the DOE to eliminate non-ops without a public vote.

Duh. NJSBA is trying to protect school board seats from being dissolved. Rocky Hill and Millstone don’t want their taxes to go up. The DOE knows allowing a vote will leave us with our 26 non-ops intact, so it bypassed the vote. And if Corzine and the DOE want to push regionalization, they’ll have to suck up the fact that the only way to do it is by legislation also.

Impossible. Are we stuck with 590 school districts?

How About We Create Yet Another School District?

Meanwhile, the Record reports that the mayors of Hillsdale and River Vale are engaging in fisticuffs with Montvale and Woodcliff Lake, who want to withdraw from the Pascack Valley Regional High School District and create their own district. River Vale mayor Joseph Blundo said.” “We think it goes against everything that New Jersey is encouraging.” Woodcliff mayor Joseph LaPagila said, “There is no greater opportunity that exists to lower our property taxes in Woodcliff Lake than this initiative.”

It’s true. The non-ops’ property taxes will go up. But that’s because their school tax burden has been circumscribed around the exact number of children in their tiny towns who happen to attend school that year. Now they get to join the bulk of New Jerseyans who pay full freight.

Joan Whitlow: Charter Schools Aren’t the Answer:

Joan Whitlow, columnist for the Star-Ledger, hopes that during this election cycle the Democrats “don’t take the urban vote for granted” and the Republicans don’t just “recite what’s wrong with the cities.” And she’s no supporter of charter schools. While she applauds the results of Newark’s Robert Treat Academy, she also points out that

most charter schools are not posting the Robert Treat’s academic results. There are public schools doing better than many of the charters. The public schools must take all comers; the charter schools have a more select student body, kids whose parents are involved enough to sign up for the admissions lottery that decides who gets in.

It seems to me that replicating the good public schools is the best model for turning around urban education at large. I’d take on teacher tenure, too. But who asked me?

Actually, charter schools do have to take all comers. But who asked me?

Loch Arbour Saga Continues:

A Superior Court Judge in Freehold denied Loch Arbour’s request to block Ocean Township from implementing their new budget, which will call for a tax increase in Loch Arbour of 450%. Here’s the whole scoop from the Atlanticville.

Dysfunctional School Board of the Week Award:

Hamilton Township in Mercer County wins for their public display of animosity, with three members vociferously claiming that the district has a weak nepotism policy, evidenced by the fact that three other board members and Superintendent Neil Bencivengo all have family members who work in the district.. The Trenton Times reports that Board President Elric Cicchetti (whose daughter works in the district) said that the policy is “minimal” but fine, and that a second reading and vote will take place at a school board retreat not open to the public. Actually, all board votes not covered by OPRA are open to the public. We hope the reporter got it wrong, not the board president.

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