Letter: Mayors Wasting Time On Regional Issue

Citizens for Better Schools calls for a May 10 decision on scope of feasibility study.

Dear Editor,

On June 14, the first of three public forums on the funding, equality and education of the West Morris Regional High School District occurred with all five constituent municipalities represented by their respective mayors and the five school districts represented by selected board members. Since that time, some of those same mayors have continued to meet in private, presumably to discuss these same issues. 

More than ten months later, on April 24, the mayors announce their decision to form a new committee to continue studying these same issues. In their statement, the mayors emphasized their intent "to go through this process thoughtfully and methodically." 

Citizens for Better Schools (“CBS”) are dismayed by the mayors' apparent lack of any urgency. At a cost of $17,000 per day in subsidy paid by Chester and Mendham taxpayers to West Morris Central High School, the mayors have accomplished nothing other than wasting $6.2 million over the past year since the West Morris Regional High School District Board of Education rejected unanimous requests by the four governing bodies of the Mendhams and Chesters for a referendum. The annual amount Mendham/Chester residents are taxed in excess of the cost to educate their own high school students equals $6.2 million.

According to the mayors’ statement, "The committee will be responsible for deciding the appropriate next steps including... possible funding formula changes, legislation changes for school funding..."  Mayor Ken Short, Regional School Board President Cristen Forrester and other Washington Township elected officials, however, have been quoted repeatedly by the press unequivocally asserting that Washington Township residents will never vote to increase their taxes. CBS believes them. Don't waste any more time on this dead end. Pursuing a change in legislation is similarly futile and wasteful.  CBS urges our elected officials to heed the conclusions of last June’s educational summit meeting and promptly focus only on that which is realistically achievable.

By NJ statute, the regional high school board has no say on this issue and no place in these discussions, other than to obstruct progress, as evidenced by the high school board's appointment of its two committee representatives, Jim Johnston and John Meyer, with unblemished records of voting against the best interests of Chester and Mendham residents.  After the Chester and Mendham governing bodies asked the regional high school to act, on March 22, 2011 the school board refused to even discuss it.  The motion brought at that meeting for a referendum has been tabled by the board for the past 13 months.  By that act, they've forfeited the right to be a part of this process.

The mayors state they seek "the solution that is best for our children."  CBS seeks change that will be best for all residents, children and taxpayers alike.  The mayors' discussed "maintaining the... quality of our schools." CBS believes we can improve the quality of our high school.

The primary agenda item for the May 10 meeting must be to decide on the scope of a feasibility study. Stop wasting time and taxpayers’ money!


Citizens for Better Schools

Charlene Arrington, Chair


SpecialEd May 05, 2012 at 02:40 AM
@Russ. I'll take you up on your pie, but we'll need these handful of Mendham gadflies who are living beyond their means to show up with some microscopes and gram scales so the pie cut is Painfully Fair At That Moment In Time. @Barbara. WT does send millions to Hackettstown schools. The are a DE District Factor and WT is three factors higher, an I. You are a J. Hackettstown gets school aid from taxes paid in by WT. The West Morris district also gets school aid because of the inclusion of "I" DF WT. Your property tax school levy is NOT to pay for the education of school children in your town. It is to pay for the education of school children in your DISTRICT. If every little town had their own district, BOE, superintendent, principals, vice principals, nurses, etc, the NJ education system cost would be even more insane than it is. And if you really want that model, get prepared to have your income taxes skyrocket as every neighborhood in Newark and Camden divides into their own little village. Then your state income taxes would go through the roof. Wait, you and Charlene never mentioned what you pay in income taxes? @Leta: You have hit the nail on the head. I think this tempest in a teapot is caused by 6-8 Mendham households living over their head in their property taxes. Maybe we can start a charity? One of those blanket coin tosses for the Arringtons and Barbara?
Russ Crespolini May 05, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Guys...love ya...please keep toeing the line of civility. Thanks.
cv May 05, 2012 at 03:27 PM
SPECIAL ED YOU ROCK . @ Russ I can eat coconut custard pie.
Russ Crespolini May 05, 2012 at 05:51 PM
See? Always room for compromise.
John Doe May 08, 2012 at 01:11 AM
@SpecialEd, it really is amazing to me that you decide to attempt to justify WT's receipt of over 6 million dollars of unearned and unneeded subsidies by claiming that the only people that care are a handful of folks living beyond our means. Let me reassure you that I for one live well within my means, I am confident that my neighbors do as well. I find your sense of entitlement to be outrageous. And, having said that, you still have yet to deliver a cogent argument for why MT should be paying twice what you pay for each child sent to WMRHS. Also, you misstate facts when you say that local property taxes do not pay for local school districts. You may be aware that WT has its own K-8 district, as does Mendham Township and Mendham Boro. I believe that the Chester's share a district. So local taxes, not income taxes, do in fact support local school districts. So, again I ask, what justification is there for WT to receive a $6.2 million annual subsidy from its neighbors for the regional high school system, when WT is also above the state average in income and home value?


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