From the Echoes-Sentinel

WARREN TWP. – The Watchung Hills Regional High School District Board of Education will participate in a study eyeing everything from increased shared services to consolidation with sending districts, though it remains to be seen which of those districts will participate as well.

The high school board voted unanimously to participate in a regionalization feasibility study at a meeting on Tuesday, May 18. In passing the resolution, the board secured full state funding for the study, which is estimated to cost between $120,000 to $150,000.

Board President Gregory Przybylski said the feedback he has received from the grades K-8 school boards in Warren, Watchung, Long Hill and Green Brook on whether they would participate in the study has been mixed.

“I’ve gotten no comment, some districts have said that they will bring it to their board either for a discussion and/or vote sometime in June, and others seem to be on a slower timeline,” he said.

He said the K-8 districts would be able to opt in at any point leading up to when the Watchung Hills board submits the formal application for the study later this year. Board member Robert Morrison said it would be several months before the board files the application.

Morrison, who chairs the board’s regionalization ad hoc committee, clarified that whether all or none of the districts wish to participate in the study alongside Watchung Hills, they would all have to provide information for it either way.

Those school boards that decide to participate would send members to serve on a joint regionalization committee that would oversee the study.

“The difference is being at the table and helping to craft the study and working with identifying the consultants and collaborating on the process, versus just providing information for research,” Morrison said.

He said those boards that do not wish to participate would be relying on the best judgement of Watchung Hills and the districts that do participate.

Twenty-five board members and school administrators representing all five districts met virtually on Monday, May 3, to discuss the merits of the feasibility study. The discussion and ensuing Q&A period was led by Mark Magyar, director of policy and communications for the State Senate Majority Office.

“I think that the other boards have been informed over a prolonged period of time – several months – where we’ve done presentations to individual boards and we’ve also done a bigger presentation, with the timetable always being presented,” Przybylski said.