The dream team of mayors aren’t going to get their fifth man without an entourage.
Mendham Township Mayor Sam Tolley said he would not commit $10,000 to help fund a feasibility study on altering the regional school system until he sees specifics on the scope of the study.
Members of the Mendham Township Committee also stated they wanted increased representation at further meetings and more involvement from the school boards.
“I would want to know exactly what we would be studying before I commit dollars to it,” Mayor Tolley said.
On Feb. 23 Mayors Ken Short of Washington Township, Bill Cogger of Chester Township, Bob Davis of Chester Borough, and Neil Henry of Mendham Borough concluded a Department of Education presentation to the regional school district with an appeal for Tolley to join them in their meetings and in funding the feasibility study.
“We agreed they should have their [DOE] meeting first, now I am waiting for all the mayors to have a meeting,” Tolley said. “I think everyone on the committee would agree with me the different school boards need to become more involved and take a fuller role.”
At the Feb. 28 Committee meeting, Tolley was asked by resident Jennifer Brauner why he wasn’t moving forward with the feasibility study. “If we are going to have a study, I need to know what the study is going to be on. I want an open process. I want people to know what is going on,” Tolley said. “And I want that collective group to order what that study would be on, but we need to have a consistent plan.”
Committee member Frank Cioppettini wanted more than just a plan in place. “The mayor and another member of our committee should attend these meetings because others have more than one person,” said the former mayor, who announced Washington Township has been sending more than one representative to the meetings.
Committee member Richard Merkt supported the idea of including the school leadership and more representation than the mayor alone, but also added that further questions should be asked of the other towns. “We need a threshold discussion with our sister towns,” Merkt said. “We need to see if they are willing to discuss a change to the funding formula.”
A clearer plan for the study, more representation at the meetings and better communication were all on the minds of the committee, as was transparency in the process. That is something resident Dennis Deegan agreed with.
“Given the magnitude of this particular item, ideally the five mayors should approach this the way this committee works. Anytime more than two members get together it has to be a public open meeting,” Deegan said. “All the meetings with the mayors should be open to the public. People interested in the process should be able to go and follow it.”