While the majority of the crowd assembled at the Garabrant Center last week to discuss the West Morris Regional School District, one resident was there to discuss her concerns with Mendham Borough’s K-8 district.
“We need regionalization,” Laurie Felber said.
Felber said she was there wearing several hats that night, but as a resident and taxpayer in the Mendham Borough she was there to talk about her frustrations with the school district and more specifically, the district’s superintendent woes.
“We need regionalization because Mendham Borough is having a hard time trying to find a superintendent,” Felber said. “And we overpay just to get someone in.”
Felber also brought up the recent decision to pay $6,000 for retired superintendent Janie Edmonds for a professional trip to Europe. Mendham Borough Mayor Neil Henry said he was also surprised by the reimbursement.
“I have to say I was at the same board of education meeting you were at,” Henry said. “And my jaw hit the floor.”
According to Felber, decisions like the trip payout have created an untenable situation in a superintendent search.
“We either get the beginners and the people from down below,” Felber said.
Felber said the inaction of the superintendent allowed lapses that hurt the quality of education.
“It took two years to find a special needs director,” Felber said. “It was criminal those kids fell through the cracks.”
Felber implored the council to speak to the board of education, and said that it would improve the quality of education for both districts in they were to combine.
After the retirement of Edmonds, the borough tapped former Chester superintendent Dr. Thomas Butler to lead the district as an interim super.
“Our whole community as a whole would be so much better. We would be able to share services to have our students have everything they need,” Felber said. “We can’t do this alone. Something has to be done. Anything would be better than being this little dinky 700 student school.”
For his part, Henry said that the board of education was approached on combining before the interim super was hired.
“My understanding was that the effort was made on both sides of the board,” Henry said. “And they decided they didn’t want to share a superintendent.”
Felber again lamented the status quo.
This is just horrible,” Felber said. “There has to be something better than what we have now. “
A public forum on the K-8 school district search for a permanent superintendent is planned for Monday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. at the Hilltop School Cafeteria.