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Preview: DOE Talk May Guide Regional District

All five municipalities welcome to attend Feb. 23 presentation.

For the first time since a June 2011 education summit, mayors, school board members and superintendents from the West Morris Regional High School district’s sending municipalities will come together to discuss a variety of ways to potentially change the system with the Department of Education.

On Thursday, Feb. 23 at Mendham High School, members of the state’s highest authority on education will present information about regionalization, dissolution, and ways to possibly change the current funding formula in the district.

Moderated by former education commissioner William Librera, the June 2011 summit set goals for the mayors of the towns to come together and find a potential equitable solution to changing the current funding formula.

Four of the five towns’ mayors have taken part consistently over the past eight months, while Mendham Township’s former mayor Frank Cioppetini did not take part after the first meeting.

Since that time, superintendents from the region’s five school districts have also come together to discuss curriculum ideas and shared services.

In the eight months since the summit, administrative changes have taken place and future outlook has opened many eyes.

Regional school district Superintendent Anthony di Battista announced he would retire, effective Feb. 29; Mendham Borough and Mendham Township school district superintendents Janie Edmonds and Kris Harrison, respectively, both announced their retirements effective in June; and Washington Township Schools learned that enrollment in the K-8 district could potentially drop by 500 students over the next 5 years.

As the 2011 summer months came to a close, recall attempts seeking the dismissal of regional board members Jacke Schram (Mendham Borough) and James Johnston (Chester) failed, as well.

In November, the regional board was made aware that the state reapportioned the seating, giving Chester Borough a representative, effective in the next election, taking Washington Township's representative's from five to four. In January 2011, the regional board voted to move school elections from April to November for the next four years.

When members of the DOE come to Mendham on Thursday, they’ll be giving information to the five towns and school districts about the educational impact of changing the regional district.

Members will also give details on the legislative process needed to take place to make a change, as well as the cost associated with reconfiguration or withdrawal from the district.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Mendham High School auditorium. The meeting is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.

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