Board of Ed Members from local WLB and Oceanport Schools and Shore Regional discuss possible shared services/consolidation
West Long Branch: Last night the boards of education from West Long Branch and Shore Regional High schools and Oceanport agreed to engage an educational and organizational consulting firm to perform a feasibility study on combining certain functions now replicated in the individual schools. The positions are Superintendent; Business Administrator; and Central Office Services, the day to day operations center. Oceanport Schools attended in order to “not miss the boat” and to stay involved and knowledgeable in case they choose to participate later.
A feasibility study will precede other action such as hiring a superintendent. The study cost to be shared is $12,000, with a 90 day objective to present a report recommending an organization, roles and responsibilities, financials and other suggestions. The report will guide further actions to consolidate or remain as is, or take some other directions.
The firm selected is Puleio and Strimple Associates, based in North Brunswick. It was chosen from several discussed at the multi-school forum held late last year The West Long Branch Schools and Shore Regional High School were considering sharing a superintendent and other services which might have led to adding Oceanport and Monmouth Beach, although both of them have sitting Superintendents and BA’s already.
The two schools were in discussions about sharing to save money. The feasibility study may show how much. Some members last night said there may be no visible tax savings.
Everyone joined in with opinions and comments. One concern was the possible loss of a school’s personality with consolidation. Others were being forced to take directions that would preclude local school programs.
"We need to remember they are all our children," said one mother, a board member. The question of trust in each other came up, and was addressed openly, with recognition that the issue needs to be kept in mind as plans move ahead.
Summing up the meeting, WLB Board President Teresa Vaccaro said the first step will be the feasibility. Shore Regional’s Ron O’Neill and Oceanport’s Kelly McGowan agreed.
“The feasibility study requires cooperation of school experts being interviewed. They must try to be available,” said Shore BA Dennis Koch and WLB Interim Superintendent Herbert Massa.
Future meetings will be announced, and a public formal feasibility presentation will be held.