It’s been six weeks since the mayors and school board members from Washington Township, the Chesters and Mendhams met to discuss options to be analyzed in a potential feasibility study on the structure of the area’s schools.
And in that six weeks, plenty has been said by the various governing bodies, much of which could lead to a stalemate at Thursday night’s meeting of the in Mendham Borough.
, it was agreed upon that a feasibility study would analyze three options:
- A super regional K-12 school district, encompassing all five towns’ schools.
- Two separate K-12 districts; one for Washington Township, one for the Chesters and Mendhams.
- One K-12 district for Washington Township, a limited use 9-12 for the Chesters and Mendhams leaving their current K-8 systems intact.
But when , the governing body agreed it no longer wanted to study the super regional option, and would only allocate funds to the project if that choice was taken off the list.
“When we work with other people we have to consider others point of views. I was the only mayor who was against studying the K-12 for everyone. All others towns seem to be agreeable so I brought it back to discuss it further." Mayor Sam Tolley said at the meeting. “If you don’t want to compromise, you aren’t going to really be a part of a group. I will represent whatever the committee decides, but a lot of the other towns aren’t that concerned. It doesn’t bother me to study anything. As part of a group, we have to consider compromise. Being part of a group is not to force anything down anyone’s throat. And not to scream and shout.”
Resident Cecelia Donato did not see compromise the same way as Tolley.
“We are failing to compromise because Washington Township is being a bully and insisting that we study an option we have no interest in? You can’t fly in the face of your constituents. We don’t want that,” Donato said. “Why don’t we all sit out in front of Kings and Shop Rite and get signatures and withdraw. We only need 100 signatures from each town.”
Chester Borough also changed its mind and said it would like to eliminate the super regional option going forward. But at it’s most recent meeting Tuesday night, the council reversed its decision and said it would be asking for a deferment at Thursday night’s meeting, citing it wanted to speak with representatives from the Chester Consolidated School District.
The borough won’t have its final answers available in time for Thursday night’s meeting, it said.
On Monday night a large showing of members from Citizens for Better Schools appeared before Mendham Borough’s council,
"We decided as a council to support adding a mega K-12 as well as two K-12 and one standalone limited use high school for the Mendhams and the Chesters,” Mayor Neil Henry said after the meeting. “It had been decided as previously reported that if there was not a unanimous decision we wouldn’t go forward."
Washington Township and Chester Township have also stuck with the original three options initially agreed upon.
“After we made our decisions, Mendham Township and Chester Borough has decided not to pursue a mega K-12 and Washington Township will only have it with K-12,” Henry said prior to Chester Borough’s meeting Tuesday night.
“So when we meet here on Thursday we will have a divided group,” Henry continued. “We will have to be creative."
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Mendham Borough’s Garabrand Center, and is open to the public.