Quote Being Sought for Cost of Study to Merge Pinelands and Little Egg Harbor School Districts

By Rick Mellerup | Aug 28, 2019

Little Egg Harbor — A first tiny step is being taken toward possibly consolidating the Pinelands Regional School District with the Little Egg Harbor School District to create a united K-12 district. Another area newspaper recently reported that a study was underway evaluating whether it would be feasible to consolidate the districts. At the Aug. 14 Pinelands Board of Education meeting, Melissa McCooley, already the superintendent of schools for both districts thanks to a shared service agreement, said she wanted to clarify the situation.

“There was an article recently in one of our local papers and it was regarding a study to be done for a consolidation of Little Egg Harbor with the 7-12 district. So, it is a little misleading. At this point the only thing that we’re getting from a local agency is a quote to see how much it would cost to do that type of study. So once that quote is obtained, then it would be presented to both the Pinelands and Little Egg Harbor boards of education, and if both boards were in agreement that they want to move forward, then at that time a study would take place. But at this time there is no study; we’re merely getting together a quote for that.”

The exploration of the many factors involved in consolidating the two districts should come as no surprise. They already share not only a superintendent, but also many other positions, including business administrator, assistant business administrator, director of special services, school library media specialist, business services, technology services and facilities services including an evening custodial/maintenance supervisor.

Such a feasibility study may be quite costly. According to the New Jersey School Boards Association, the feasibility study for the state’s most recent regionalization effort, South Hunterdon Regional, cost $50,000. That 2013 regionalization was rather complicated considering four districts were involved, the South Hunterdon High School District and the Lambertville, Stockton and West Amwell Elementary School Districts.

Then again, there’s a whole lot of potential consolidation going on at the Little Egg Harbor District. The tiny Bass River Elementary School District is already the subject of a consolidation feasibility study being conducted by Stockton University’s Education Unit, which is looking to see if Bass River should join the Little Egg Harbor District. Bass River students already attend Pinelands schools, starting in seventh grade. —R.M.

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