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Schools Study Funds Sought for Regional Dissolution

Chester resident Charlene Arrington asked the K-8 school board to set aside $10,000 to study restructuring high school district.

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.

1819 February 13, 2013 at 03:12 AM
Oy. People need to understand that there becomes a "sunk dollars" impact to letting one gadfly with a dream disrupt the system. Sucking the energy out of meeting agendas and volunteer time and people's energy and district employees and media attention just can't be allowed to be a person's hobby. Seriously, maybe you and your family need to go be happier somewhere else, Ms. Arrington.
The Stig February 13, 2013 at 06:50 AM
People of Western Morris County WAKE UP. Your elected officials are all wasting your money. The configuration of the school districts will NEVER change unless NJ steps in and creates countywide school districts. ALL Districts have to approve any reconfiguration, and there are NO plans that would satisfy ALL. Spending money on studies that would breakup the HS district, or create a single K-12 district, is just more money flushed down a rat hole.
John Neubeck February 13, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Our education model in NJ sucks! Most every other state in the country has county run systems. This creates continuity, and most of all significantly reduces administrative costs. We need to wake up! People are migrating out of NJ more than any other state because of our high property taxes that are driven mostly by sky high education costs. (on average 80%) Ms. Arrington if you're so unhappy about the current structure either send your angels to private school or move.
Domino February 13, 2013 at 06:33 PM
How nice that Charlene has unilaterally decided that Chester Borough gets to contribute a lower amount because her CBS pals Janet Hoven and Jennifer Napolitano are on the Borough Council. That's rather interesting because by the current equalized valuation formula, Chester Borough already pay the least of any of the five towns. It's also so thoughtful of Charlene to unilaterally decide which options will be studied; funny too because as she says, "we pared it down", which means she and Jamie Button decided what options will be examined. They make such a cute couple, those two.
LVMom February 16, 2013 at 07:24 PM
SO TRUE

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