School district merger put to vote in NJ

September 23, 2013 5:03:19 PM PDT
School mergers most often create controversies, and the situation in Hunterdon County, New Jersey is no exception.

Families will vote on the proposed consolidation tomorrow.

Tuesday's ballot asks voters in Lambertville, Stockton and West Amwell to merge their school districts with the South Hunterdon High School District to create a single district that would serve about 950 students.

The superintendent at the high school, Dr Louis Muenker, calls it a no-brainer compared to the current set up.

"You have basically four principals, couple business administrators, three superintendent of schools, so you can see the redundancy there. It just provides a lot of opportunity for greater efficiencies," Muenker said.

"We believe we can do more and provide better education. Use our tax dollars more wisely to provide education," Jim Gallagher of the Regionalization Committee said.

The high school is already regionalized. Approving the merger would extend that to the elementary schools in each town for a projected savings of up to a half million dollars a year.

Some parents think it will help their kids' education by coordinating curriculum

"Having the three different lower schools on the same page when they come in to upper grades will make more sense," parent Jacque Sornstein said.

But not everyone is on board.

"It's stretching people too thin. One superintendent for three or four schools? Kind of doesn't make too much sense," Mark Leary of Lambertville said.

One concern in Stockton is what will it mean for the borough's historic 4-room schoolhouse. With 54 students, it's the smallest public school in the state.

"I think there would be people heartbroken including myself, I'm the administrator, if it were to shut its doors. I'm hopeful that that day will never come," Suzanne Ivans said.

Ivans believes regionalization will stabilize the school.

"They say they are gonna save a lot of money on it. I hope they do," resident Donald Edwards said.

The ballot actually has two questions on it about the regionalization. Both have to pass to make it happen.

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. in to 9:00 p.m.


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