Regional Feasibility Study Called Off By Mayors
Mendham, Chester and Washington Township officials will meet next month to discuss other issues.
The fat lady is singing for the feasibility study on the regional school district.
In a joint letter released this week, Chester Township Mayor Bill Cogger, Chester Borough Mayor Bob Davis, Mendham Township Mayor Sam Tolley, Mendham Borough Mayor Neil Henry and Washington Township Mayor Ken Short said that since they have been unable to come to a consensus on the feasibility study topics and therefore will not be moving forward as a group.
The group, which calls itself the West Morris Regional Education Advisory Committee, has been at an impasse since its July meeting, when Mendham Township said it would not fund a portion of a potential study if it included grouping the five towns into one school district.
“We are going to move on from the school issue and talk about other issues,” Mendham Borough Mayor Neil Henry said. “The hurricane knocked us off our last meeting the ensuing cleanup it was difficult to find a date in November and December,” Henry said. “All five mayors have agreed to not move forward with the study since a consensus couldn’t be reached.”
Henry said the next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 31, will “drift away” from the topic of the schools.
The complete letter to residents is below.
To: Residents of the West Morris Regional District
Due to Super Storm Sandy, we continue to deal with the massive impact this natural disaster has had on our towns. As a result, our next Mayors’ Advisory Meeting will be held in January.
Our goal in June of 2011 was to work together to inform and engage our residents in a thoughtful and honest conversation regarding the configuration, funding and quality of our Regional High School. We met with the Department of Education and apprised them of our situation, and in February of 2012, the DOE journeyed to our district to give us an objective view of our schools. Those of you who attended the meeting or saw the presentation on any of the town or school websites, know that the DOE believes we have an excellent school with a diverse curriculum that offers not only scholastic excellence, but the sports, arts, activities and support to enrich our children and prepare them for the future.
The Mayors worked diligently to reach consensus on a study but, due to strong positions taken by all involved, all five towns unfortunately could not arrive at a consensus. We all agree that a comprehensive study addressing all possibilities and funding combinations could have been explored. This opinion was also supported by the County and by educational law specialists. Funds were budgeted by the communities to pay for a study, but now the monies set aside by each municipality in 2012 for the study will not be re-budgeted for 2013. We will continue to pursue the legislative solution regarding regional school funding that would provide local flexibility to adjust funding scenarios in the future.
This issue has created animosity between our towns that is neither productive nor is it reflective of our communities as a whole. It is time for all us to move on and proactively work together on issues we can accomplish as a collective community that will benefit all of us.
The five mayors agree our meetings have provided the opportunity for some much needed dialogue between our towns and have opened doors for us to work together on issues beyond education. For this reason, we will focus our January meeting on the lessons learned during the Sandy Storm including ways to address JCPL’s performance and explore any shared services that could help us during such critical times.
We encourage all of our residents to attend this meeting and participate in our efforts to make our entire community a wonderful place to work and live. We want to extend a special thanks to the Boards of Education representatives who have donated their time and energies to work with us these last several months.
We look forward to seeing you on January 31, 2013 at the Chester Borough town hall.