The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senators Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Joe Kyrillos establishing a school district regionalization task force that will study and make recommendations regarding the issues and benefits of consolidating school districts.
“If we are ever going to address New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes and provide relief to homeowners we have to take a close look at consolidating school districts to create a more efficient and sustainable school system,” said Bateman (R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer). “This task force will provide valuable insight and jumpstart the conversation on what is a complex issue, but one that carries great potential to enhance educational opportunities, streamline services and reduce costs.”
— Senator Kip Bateman (@KipBateman) December 17, 2015
The legislation, S-2727, establishes the 16-member Task Force on School District Regionalization. The task force, which must issue a report to the governor and legislature on its findings, will:
- Review existing research, studies, and data concerning the regionalization of school districts;
- Identify challenges associated with the regionalization of school districts including financing of feasibility studies, issues associated with school district governance and financing, and the integration of curriculum, programs and staff;
- Identify and review benefits of regionalization including potential cost savings and the ability to offer a wider array of educational programs, services and extracurricular activities;
- Identify incentives to encourage school districts to regionalize as well as obstacles that discourage school districts from entering into regional school district arrangements.
“With more school districts than municipalities in New Jersey, including more than 100 districts containing just one school, there clearly needs to be a comprehensive look at where regionalization makes sense,” added Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). “The task force’s work in dissecting the complexities of the issue will give school districts and local officials the background information needed to pursue for themselves whether a regional district would best serve their community.”