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State Ordered Study of School Consolidation Will Miss March Deadline

Schools | Fri, 02/26/2010 - 5:03 pm | Updated 5 years 7 weeks ago | Read 2458 | Commented 2 | Emailed 4
Tags: cape may county, school consolidation, Terrance Crowley

By Jack Fichter

Terrance Crowley

COURT HOUSE — Three years ago, the state Department of Education (DOE) ordered studies to look at consolidation of school districts, in particular creating districts encompassing kindergarten through the twelfth grade but those studies to have been undertaken by state colleges were not funded.

DOE also wanted to eliminate non-operating school districts, towns that do not have a school building but send their students to another district on a tuition basis. Cape May Point and West Wildwood are non-operating districts.

The deadline will come and go without recommendations being presented for school consolidation, according to county Executive Superintendent Terrance Crowley.

“The studies aren’t done, therefore there’s not going to be any recommendations by March 10,” he said.

Until new state funding is found for the colleges, there will be no recommendations for consolidations of schools, said Crowley. He said Rowan and Stockton colleges were to conduct studies in this county but the contracts were never executed.

Crowley said Gov. Christie has not mentioned school consolidation but discussion has centered on Choice and charter schools.

Crowley warned local school districts in 2008 to plan ahead for big drop off in state aid in three years. Last week, Gov. Chris Christie cut $475 million in state aid to 500 school districts.
Big losers in this county include Lower Township Elementary District at $841,818, Middle Township at $803,605 and Ocean City at $650,000.

Crowley told the Herald he did not see the dip in state aid causing consolidation of schools in the near future. He said his office was trying to give advice and assistance to school districts to make whatever adjustments they need to make to deal with the shortfall in state aid.

Crowley said he was also watching a promised drop in state aid next year thought to be a 15 percent decrease.

“The pot of money, from what we are hearing, they are trying to maintain as flat,” he said.

It remains to be seen how that will be distributed, said Crowley.
He said school districts were still required to present their proposed budget to his office by the end of March, so they can appear on the April school election ballots.

Cape May, West Cape May and Cape May Point are working with a consultant undertaking a study to see if they could regionalize or consolidate. Crowley said the study should be completed in a few months.
He said no other school districts in the county have reached the point where they are working with a consultant.

Is an area better off consolidating into with one larger school offering a variety of programs than two or more smaller schools struggling with fewer offerings?

“That’s really in my mind why you do it, to make sure your educational program is the best that it can be,” said Crowley. “It’s tough to offer a whole variety of math courses when you only have a handful of youngsters in each class.”

Consolidating schools may not save $1 million but the result is a better educational program, he said.

Crowley began his state-created position in November 2007 to ensure schools are financially prudent, and to encourage shared services in purchasing, teachers, facilities and insurance, he said.
The Executive County Superintendent also has a line item veto on local school budgets and can redirect or eliminate areas of a school’s budget.

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Sun, 02/28/2010 - 10:10am - Posted by: wannabet

So basically these "executive superintendents" did nothing more than collect their fat paycheck and bennies these past 3 years. The next cut Christie should make is this layer of administration and give it back to the schools. Then he should really look at OTHER administrative jobs that are nothing more than paper-pushers, especially the freeloaders at the county level. And why legislators like Van Drew need FOUR offices at the taxpayers expense when they should be in Trenton doing their job.

Fri, 02/26/2010 - 6:19pm - Posted by: Wildwood is Camden with Condos

All the Wall Street FAT CATS.. those creative mortgage yuppies.. the realtors.. or as I like to call them... the UNREAL-tors.....ohhhh yea.. this condo on Roberts and Pacific ave iin Wildwood is worth $400,000 dollars. and in a few years it will double !!! I AM GONA GO IN MY PANTS., I AM LAUGHING SO HARD... LOL... AND ALL YOU FLIPPERS AND LOCAL CO-MEN.who sold this counrty and county out..and NOW THIS IS THE FLIP SIDE...

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