In Brief

New Jersey issues grants for school regionalization studies

By: - August 7, 2023 3:02 pm

The grants will fund studies exploring cost-cutting mergers in four mostly rural school districts, furthering a long-sought goal. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

The Department of Community Affairs issued grants to four school districts exploring regionalization, moving forward a long-held goal intended to reduce the costs of public education in New Jersey.

The $470,000 in grants will go to fund regionalization feasibility studies in Belvidere and Hunterdon County’s Union Township school district, as well as in two regional high schools in Sussex and Gloucester counties.

“We’ve seen firsthand the tremendous benefits that can result when neighboring towns and schools work together to share their resources and services. So, we are pleased that these school districts are taking the time to seriously research regionalization to see if it makes sense for their communities,” Nicholas Platt and Jordan Glatt, who are overseeing the Murphy administration’s shared services plan, said in a statement.

Officials have long viewed regionalization — the process of combining towns or school districts — as a means of reducing public spending. By combining districts, states can reduce spending on administration, staffing, and transportation, they say.

New Jersey spends more on education per pupil than all but four states in the nation, and school aid accounts for the largest share of the state’s annual budget, more than $20 billion.

Education spending is also a main driver of New Jersey’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes. Those bills averaged $9,490 in 2022, according to Department of Community Affairs statistics. School taxes accounted for nearly 53% of property taxes that year.

“We’re hopeful the studies will guide the districts on ways they can adopt regionalization for the benefit of their students, teachers, parents, and taxpayers,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.

The grants will reimburse districts for studies exploring regionalization, including ongoing studies.

Belvidere’s school district will receive $150,000 for its study, while Union Township will get $120,000. The Delsea and Kittatinny regional school districts were each issued $100,000 grants.

All but one of the chosen districts had more students per teacher than the statewide average. Delsea Regional’s ratio of 13.3 students per teacher exceeded the state average of 12 students per teacher.

Once complete, the districts will submit regionalization feasibility studies to the state, but they will decide themselves whether to move forward with district mergers.


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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.