Have you been keeping up with what’s going on in our schools?
There are so many things that we, as parents, have to pay attention to, that we all have to prioritize.
We have top-rated schools, with school board members elected by the public and committed teachers, counselors and administration. So can’t we just take this off our radar and trust that our schools will be fine?
Over the years, I’ve been involved with our schools in various capacities–first as an instructional aide and employee of the Washington Township Board of Education (BOE), then as a PTA President and VP. I’m also a mom of three boys and I attend BOE meetings regularly. In this column, I’m hoping to share some information so that other parents can be informed voters and shool supporters.
Did you know that students in Long Valley are part of two separate and distinct school districts as they move through their primary education? All of our children go to one of three elementary schools through the 5th grade, when they are brought together to attend the Long Valley Middle School. The Washington Township School District, which is a K-8 district, runs these schools.
When students enter our public high school, they are part of a different school district, called the West Morris Regional High School District. There are two high schools in this district. One is West Morris Central, which is located on Bartley Road and serves students in Washington Township. The other is called West Morris Mendham, which is located in Mendham borough and serves students from Chester Borough, Chester Township, Mendham Borough and Mendham Township. The BOE serving this district has representatives from all four of the sending K-8 districts, and one superintendent.
As you probably know, there is a lot going on with our schools, especially this year as Gov. Chris Christie is taking aim at our school districts in his attempt to rein in property taxes. NJ School boards are under pressure to provide an excellent education to all children, while keeping the increase in property taxes under a 2% limit. Our local BOEs are in the process of forming their budgets, which they hope will be supported by the public when we vote in April. Our high school BOE is also involved in negotiating a contract with teachers. As decisions are made this year, our students’ educational experience will be affected.
I hope I’ve convinced you that the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this article is, unfortunately, no. We really can’t take our eyes off the ball when it comes to our schools. The good news is that there are many ways to become informed about what’s happening. Attending BOE meetings is one way, but if that’s not an option, you can talk to friends and neighbors, read school communications, and check out our districts’ websites. They are:
As always in communities, there are rumors and not everyone is informed with the facts. If you hear something about our schools that doesn’t sound right, please make sure you get the facts.
Feel free to add comments to this column or ask questions either here or through my e-mail, which is firstname.lastname@example.org. If I don’t know the answer to your question, I will find it and get back to you quickly.
Author of this column, Lisa Woodring, is a Long Valley resident and parent of three.