The Senate Education Committee advanced 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.
Sens. Kip Bateman and Joe Kyrillos sponsor a bill establishing a school district regionalization task force that will study issues and benefits of consolidating school districts. (Flickr)
“We have to begin working in earnest to create a more efficient and sustainable school system and regionalization and consolidation of services needs to be a part of that discussion,” said Bateman (R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer). “Regionalizing school districts is a complex issue that requires a lot of thought and planning but in the right scenarios it is one that carries great potential to enhance educational opportunities, streamline services and address a leading contributor to New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes.”
Senator Bateman’s 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 nearly 600 school districts across the state, more than 100 of which contain just one school, there is clearly an opportunity to achieve efficiencies,” added Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). “Taking a comprehensive look at the benefits and challenges to regionalization will help districts and local officials navigate the complexity of the issue and evaluate whether a regional district would best serve their community.”