Legislation sponsored by Senator Declan O’Scanlon that would lift obstacles interfering with consolidation plans for school districts was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Legislation sponsored by Sen. Declan O’Scanlon that would lift obstacles interfering with school districts exploring consolidation was advanced by committee. (SenateNJ.com)
“It doesn’t work in every case, but there are some districts in the state that have identified advantages – both financial and education quality – to merging,” said O’Scanlon (R-16). “This bill doesn’t force schools to consolidate, but it removes some of the impediments that can prevent districts from moving forward with plans that can benefit both taxpayers and students.”
The legislation (S-3488) establishes criteria for state-funded regionalization studies, increases flexibility on regionalization cost apportionment, bars any regionalization that would segregate students, protects accrued tenure and seniority, and provides significant financial incentives for districts losing state aid because of declining enrollment to regionalize by extending the schedule for their Adjustment Aid cuts from four years to eight years.
The measure establishes a grant program to help districts conduct feasibility studies, reducing the burden on local taxpayers.
“In certain cases, consolidation can reduce the cost of education, deliver property tax savings, increase educational opportunities and improve overall education quality,” O’Scanlon noted. “For school districts to make informed decisions, feasibility studies are essential. We don’t want the costs associated with these studies to discourage districts from exploring options that could save money in the future.”