When the five mayors that govern the towns in the West Morris Regional School District moving on from regional restructuring after failing to reach an accord on the topics of a feasibility study, many thought that would be the end of the discussion.
But at Monday's meeting of the Chester Consolidated School District Board of Education, resident Charlene Arrington asked that BOE set aside $10,000 in their current budget to help fund the study.
"I'm raising this here because it is the right venue for it, and I'm here because I am the parent of a fifth-grader who, like your children, has the promise and potential that demands we do everything we can to ensure that she and all other Chester students attend a high school that is the best that we can possibly make it," Arrington said. "The investment in a study by this board will help make that happen"
According to Arrington, a group of concerned parents in Mendham and Chester began an effort two years ago to establish equity in the formula used to finance the Regional High School District. Also at the heart of the issue, according to Arrington, was the "continued decline of Mendham High School in regional and national rankings."
Arrington said that residents are asking for an investment of $10,000 from the governing bodies in Mendham Township and Mendham Borough as well as the K-8 districts in Mendham Township and Mendham Borough.
"There has been a very strong interest in Mendham Borough K-8 and the Mendham township K-8. I don’t know what they are going to do but they have been approached for contributions well. But they are going through their budgets now," Arrington said.
Arrington said that Chester Township and Washington Township will not fund it, but Chester Borough has been approached at a discounted rate.
"Chester Borough is being asked for less than the other municipalities because it is smaller," Arrington said.
Arrington said the two options the funds would be used to study are a limited use 9-12 high school for the Mendhams and the Chesters or a K-12 district for just the Mendhams and the Chesters.
"The more options you put in the study the bigger and more expensive it is," Arrington said. "We pared it down to these two options and these are the only options that all the mayors agreed to study. Things fell apart when some of the mayors wanted to study the mega K-12."
Arrington said that both study options would mean the dissolution of the West Morris Regional High School District, but the trade off could mean a district where Mendham and Chester students could "reap the benefits of a fully articulated curriculum and lower administrative costs."
"A study will examine the educational and financial impact of the only two alternatives to our current school district structure that have a reasonable chance of being approved by voters in a referendum," Arrington said. "And with a feasibility study, the parents and taxpayers can then make up their own minds and determine the best structure for our schools."
The board took no action on the request, but said they would consider the proposal.