NJPSA GR Director Debra Bradley testified on regionalization of schools before the Joint Committee on the Public Schools November 12. NJPSA testified in concert with her sister stakeholders, NJEA, NJASA and NJSBA. The hearing came at the request of Assemblywoman Donna Simon. Several school districts within her legislative district recently consolidated spurring the conversation on what helps or hinders consolidation.
NJPSA referenced prior examinations of the subject, most recently in 1999 and 2006, explaining that any decision should first and foremost focus on the best interests of students – specifically, whether students’ instructional, developmental and overall school experiences will be improved or adversely impacted. Director Bradley detailed out how complex the questions that surround regionalization In her testimony, arguing for a true cost benefit analysis – at the local and regional level – to determine the best options for a particular community or region.
The Association recommended a comprehensive assessment of the educational impact of regionalizing as well as a consideration of the impact on curriculum, program offerings, extra-curricular opportunities, class size, equipment and facilities and related criteria. NJPSA also urged that the practical risks and concerns by moving to a large school system must also be examined as educational research supports small schools and small learning communities.
In addition, the Association urged that ‘non-instructional expenses” which typically include invaluable items like school nursing services, transportation, food service or even guidance and child study team support services also be examined. Among the items to consider:
- The amount of time students could be forced to sit on the bus?
- Whether class size would be increased?
- How educational programs would be affected either positively or negatively?
- How services would be impacted?
- How staffing and collective bargaining are affected?
- How will the community be adequately represented?
- Would there actually be any savings and will these savings be long or short term?