Senator Declan O’Scanlon’s bill that would ease barriers deterring school districts from considering consolidation plans cleared the Senate today.
Without forcing any districts to merge, Sen. Declan O’Scanlon sponsors legislation that would ease barriers deterring school districts from considering consolidation plans. (SenateNJ.com)
“Consolidation does not work in every case, but some districts in the state have identified both financial and educational benefits from merging,” said O’Scanlon (R-16). “This bill would not force schools to consolidate, but it removes some of the impediments that can prevent districts from proceeding 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 situations, consolidation can reduce the cost of education, deliver property tax savings, increase educational opportunities and improve overall education quality,” O’Scanlon said. “For school districts to make informed decisions, feasibility studies are essential. The costs associated with these studies should not discourage districts from exploring options that could save taxpayer money in the future.”