Merging School Districts Could Save NJ Taxpayers Money
New Jersey has more school districts than municipalities and taxpayers foot the bill for them, but one lawmaker said it would be possible to save money if more districts merged.
Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-Flemington) plans to introduce a bill establishing a task force to determine if regionalization could work throughout the state.
"The task force brings together experts in the field that will come together and look at the benefits of regionalization," Simon said. "We're looking at possibly decreasing redundancies, increasing efficiencies and potentially realizing cost savings by combining resources."
The measure will also have a Democratic sponsor when it is formally introduced, Simon said. The Task Force on School District Regionalization would be given six months to gather information and then report back to Gov. Chris Christie and the legislature.
"This is not a one-size-fits-all solution," Simon said. "It might not work for everybody, but the Center for American Progress recently estimated that small districts are costing the taxpayers about $100 million more than if the districts were larger."
Four Hunterdon County school districts recently merged, and Simon said the move has been successful and could serve as a model for the rest of the state.
A recently released report by the state auditor revealed that there are 278 New Jersey school districts serving students only in grades K-to-6 or K-to-8, and the costs for those districts exceed $270 million. In 2010, county superintendents recommended the elimination of 140 inefficient school districts.