Quality Public Education for All New Jersey Students


     3-30-13 Education in the News - Dept of Education-State Budget, Autism Rates in NJ
     3-20-12 Education Issues in the News
     3-6-12Tenure Reform News - Discussion at Senate Education Committee
     2-23-12 State Aid Figures Released late today: GSCS Statement
     2-29-12 NJTV on NJ School Funding...and, Reporters' Roundtable back on the aire
     S1455 Ruiz TEACHNJ Act, introduced February 2012
     S1455 Ruiz TEACHNJ Act
     November Elections for Schools - Department of Education FAQ's
     1-18-12 GSCS ‘Take’ on the School Elections Law
     1-24-12 Education Issues in the News
     1-24-12 Supreme Court Justices Nominated by Governor Christie
     Committe Assignments for 2012-2013 under the new 215th Legislature rolling out
     Education Transformation Task Force Initial Report...45 recommendations for starters
     9-12-11 Governor's Press Notice & Fact Sheet re: Education Transformation Task Force Report
     Democrat Budget Proposal per S4000, for Fiscal Year 2011-2012
     Additional School Aid [if the school funding formula,SFRA, were fully funded for all districts] per Millionaires' Tax bill S2969
     6-24-11 Democrat Budget Proposal brings aid to all districts
     6-1-11 Supreme Court Justice nominee, Anne Paterson, passed muster with Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday by 11-1 margin
     4-29-11 BOOMERANG! Near 80 per cent of School Budgets Passed in Wednesday'sSchool Elections
     4-26-11 School Elections, Randi Weingarten in NJ, Special Educ Aid, Shared Services bill
     4-25-11 Charter Schools in Suburbia: More Argument than Agreement
     4-24-11 Major Education Issues in the News
     4-21-11 Supreme Court hears school funding argument
     4-14-11 Governor Releases Legislation to Address Education Reform Package
     4-13-11 Governor's Proposed Legislation on Education Reform April 2011
     4-5-11 Education Issues in the News
     4-8-11 Education Issues in the News
     4-7-11 Gov. Christie - 'Addressing New Jersey's Most Pressing Education Challenges'
     4-3-11Press of Atlantic City - Pending Supreme Court ruling could boost aid to New Jersey schools
     4-2-11 The Record - Charter school in Hackensack among 58 bids
     4-1-11 N.J. gets 58 charter school applications
     3-31-11 Charters an Issue in the Suburbs - and - So far, only 7 Separate Questions on April School Budget Ballots
     3-26-11 New Jersey’s school-funding battle could use a dose of reality
     Link to Special Master Judge Doyne's Recommendations on School Funding law to the Supreme Court 3-22-11
     3-22-11 Special Master's Report to the Supreme Court: State did not meet its school funding obligation
     GSCS - Local District Listing : Local Funds Transferred to Charter Schools 2001-2010
     GSCS Bar Chart: Statewide Special Education cost percent compared to Regular & Other Instructional cost percent 2004-2011
     3-4-11 'Teacher Evaluation Task Force Files Its Report'
     3-6-11 Poll: Tenure reform being positively received by the public
     Link to Teacher Evaluation Task Force Report
     GSCS Take on Governor's Budget Message
     Gov's Budget Message for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Today, 2pm
     Tenure Reform - Video patch to Commissioner Cerf's presentation on 2-16-10
     2-16-11 Commissioner Cerf talks to educators on Tenure, Merit Pay , related reforms agenda
     Assembly Education Committee hearing Feb 2-10-11
     Assembly Education Committee hearing today, Feb 10, 2011
     9-12-10 ‘Schools coping, in spite of steep cuts'
     12-10-10 ‘NJN could get funding to stay on air as lawmakers weigh network's fate’
     2-7-11 Education - and Controversy - in the News
     1-25-11 Education in the News
     1-24-11 GSCSS Testimony before Assembly Education Committee: Charter School Reform
     1-24-11 GSCS Testimony on Charter School Reform before Assembly Eduction Committee today
     1-20-11 GSCS Testimony before Senator Buono's Education Aid Impact hearing in Edison
     Assembly Education Hearing on Charter School Reform Monday, 1-24-11, 1 pm
     GSCS Board of Trustees endorsed ACTION LETTER to Trenton asking for caution on Charter School expansion
     GSCS testimony on Tenure Reform - Senate Education Committee 12-09-10
     12-12-10 'Rash of upcoming superintendent retirements raises questions on Gov. Christie's pay cap'
     12-8-10 Education & Related Issues in the News - Tenure Reform, Sup't Salary Caps Reactions, Property Valuations Inflated
     12-7-10 Education Issues continue in the news
     12-6-10 njspotlight.com 'Christie to Name New Education Commissioner by Year End'
     12-5-10 Sunday News - Education-related Issues
     11-19-10 In the News - First Hearing held on Superintendent Salary Caps at Kean University
     11-19-10 NJ Spotlight reports on 'National Report Card (NAEP) Rates NJ Schools'
     11-15-10 GSCS meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver
     GSCS Education Forum Stayed Focused on Quality Education
     Governor's Toolkit Summary - Updated November 2010
     11-18-10 Superintendent Salary Caps to be publicly discussed tonight at Kean University
     10-8-10 Education Issue in the News
     9-15-10 'Governor Christie outlines cuts to N.J. workers' pension, benefits'
     GSCS Heads Up - County-wide school district governance legislation getting ready to move
     9-1-10 Education in the News
     8-31-10 Latest development: Schunder's margin notes reveal application error
     8-27-10 later morning - breaking news: Statehouse Bureau ‘Gov. Chris Christie fires N.J. schools chief Bret Schundler’
     8-27-10 Star Ledger ‘U.S. officials refute Christie on attempt to fix Race to the Top application during presentation’
     8-25-10 Race to the Top articles - the 'day after' news analysis
     8-24-10 Race to the Top Award Recipients named
     8-23-10 S2208 (Sarlo-Allen prime sponsors) passes 36-0 (4 members 'not voting') in the Senate on 8-23-10
     8-16-10 Senate Education hears 'for discussion only' comments re expanding charter school authorization process; Commissioner Schundler relays education priorities to the Committee
     8-13-10 East Brunswick Public School seeks stay on Hatikvah Charter School opening this fall (re: Hatikvah not meeting minimum enrollment requirement)
     7-22-10 'Summer school falls victim to budget cuts in many suburban towns'
     7-21-10 List of bills in Governor's 'Toolkit'
     Governor's Toolkit bills listing
     7-18-10 Troublesome sign of the times? Read article on the growing trend for education foundations - the pressure to provide what the state no longer supports for education...California's Proposition 13 cited
     7-16-10 GSCS Information & Comments - S29 Property Tax Cap Law and Proposal to Reduce Superintendent salaries ....
     7-15 & 16 -10 'Caps - PLURAL!' in the news
     GSCS - High costs of Special Education must be addressed asap, & appropriately
     7-12-10 Assembly passes S29 - the 2% cap bill - 73 to 4, with 3 not voting
     GSCS re:PropertyTax Cap bill - Exemption needed for Special Education enrollment costs
     7-8-10 Tax Caps, Education in the News
     GSCS:Tax Cap Exemption needed for Special Education Costs
     7-3-10 Governor Christie and Legislative leaders reached agreement today on a 2% property tax cap with 4 major exemptions
     7-1 and 2- 10 Governor Christie convened the Legislature to address property tax reform
     6-29-10 GSCS - The question remains: ? Whither property Tax Reform
     GSCS On the Scene in Trenton: State Budget poised to pass late Monday...Cap Proposals, Opportunity Scholarship Act in Limbo
     GSCS On the Scene in Trenton: Cap Proposals, Opportunity Scholarship Act in Limbo
     6-25-10 Appropriations Act bills for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 available on NJ Legislature website - here are the links
     6-23-10 Trenton News: State Budget on the move...Education Issues
     On the GSCS Radar Screen: Recently proposed (early June '10) legislation S2043 brings back Last Best Offer (LBO) for school boards in negotiations
     On the GSCS RADAR SCREEN S2021 (June '10) sponsored by Senator Tom Kean
     On the GSCS Radar Screen: Recently proposed legislation S2043 brings back Last Best Offer (LBO) for school boards in negotiations
     6-8-10 Education issues in the news today - including 'hold' on pension reform, round two
     On the GSCS Legislative Radar Screen
     6-4-10 S1762 passed unanmiously out of Senate Education Committee yesterday
     6-3-10 RTTT controversy remains top news - articles and editorials, column
     6-2-10 RACE TO THE TOP (RTTT) 'NJ STYLE': It is what it is ...but what exactly is it? Race to the Top application is caught in a crossfire of reports - more information and clarity is needed
     Senate Education Committee Agenda for 6-3-10
     5-11-10 njspotlight.com focuses on NJ's plans for and reactions to education reform
     5-8 & 9-10 Education Reform Proposals Annoucned
     5-9-10 'Gov Christie to propose permanent caps on salary raises for public workers'
     5-3-10 NY Times 'Despite Push, Success at Charter Schools is Mixed
     3-30-10 Race to the Top winners helped by local buy-in
     3-31-10 What's Going on in Local Districts?
     3-26-10 GSCS: Effective & Well-Reasoned Communication with State Leaders is Critical
     3-26-10 School Aid, Budget Shortfall - Impt Related Issues = Front Page News
     FAQ's on Pension Reform bills signed into law March 22, 2010
     3-23-10 GSCS Testimony presented to Senate Budget Committee on State Budget FY'11
     3-21-10 Reform bills up for a vote in the Assembly on Monday, March 22
     3-11-10 'GOP vows tools to cut expenses, tighter caps'
     3-5-10 HomeTowne Video taping + interviews of GSCS Summit@Summit
     3-5-10 GSCS Summit@Summit with Bret Schundler to be lead topic on Hall Institute's weekly 2:30 pm podcast today
     2-26-10 'NJ average property taxes grow 3.3 percent to an average of $7,300'
     2-25-10 Gov. Christie's Red Tape Review Comm., chaired by Lt. Gov. Guadagno, to hold public hearings In March
     2-24-10 Pension Reform bills to be introduced in Assembly this Thursday
     2-24-10 'Tight funds raise class sizes that districts long sought to cut'
     2-22-10 Christie and unions poised to do batttle over budget cuts'
     2-19-10 'Acting NJ education commissioner hoping other savings can ward off cuts'
     2-22-10 Trenton Active Today
     Flyer for March 2 Education 'Summit@Summit'
     2-14-10 'FAQ's on NJ's state of fiscal emergency declaration by Gov. Christie'
     2-12-10 Assembly Budget hearing posted for this Wednesday, Feb. 17
     FY2010 Budget Solutions - PRESS PACKET
     School Aid Withheld Spreadsheet
     2-12-10 News Coverage: Governor Christie's message on actions to address current fiscal year state budget deficits
     2-11-10 Gov Christie address to Joint Session of the Legislature on state budget and current year aid reduction remains scheduled for today
     2-10-10 'Schools are likely targets for NJ budget cuts'
     2-9-10 News article posted this morning notes potential for large loss of current year school aid
     2-8-10 Northjersey.com editorial 'Tightenting our Belts'
     2-8-10 'School leaders around N.J. wait and worry over state aid figures'
     2-8-10'Gov Christie, lawmakers proporse sweeping pension, health care changes for public employees'
     2-4-10 'Christie advisers call for tough new school rules'
     1-28-10 School Surplus plan to supplant State Aid in this year gaining probability
     Governor Christie Education Transition Team Report , released 1-22-10
     1-22-10 "N.J. poll finds support for easier teach dismissal, merit pay'
     1-20-10 'N.J. files application for federal Race to the Top education money'
     1-20-10 Editorials, Commentary on New Governor in Trenton
     1-18-10 Advance news on 'Christie as new Governor'
     GSCS to speak at Tri-District 'Open' meeting in Monmouth on January 27
     1-15-10 Education News-Race to the Top incentives, NCLB annual results, supermajority vote upheld
     1-14-10 'N.J. Gov.-elect Christie targets teachers' union with Schundler appointment'
     1-14-10 'To lead schools, Christie picks voucher advocate'
     1-12-10 Lame Duck Session is over
     1-11-10 Transition News
     1-10-10 'Educators say consolidating school districts doesn't add up'
     1-8-10 Of Note for schools - from Lame Duck session yesterday, 1-7-10
     1-6-10 Race to the Top Plans on the move, not without conflict
     1-6-10 Lame Duck Legislative Calendar Updated
     12-31-09 Commissioner invites chief school administrators to Race to the Top meeting
     1-5-10 GSCS: Update on January 4 Lame Duck Session & State School Aid Proposal
     1-5-10 Lame Duck Legislative Calendar through January 12th
     1-5-10 Update on January 4 Lame Duck Session
     12-23-09 Gannett article provides details on Gov. Corzine's proposal to use additional surplus in place of state aid
     12-23-09 GSCS: Governor Corzine targets excess school surplus to replace state aid payments starting in Feb '10 - lame duck legislation anticipated
     1-4-10 Legislative Calendar through January 12th
     1-4-10 Assembly Education Committee Agenda
     12-30-09 January 4th Senate Quorum -Committee Schedule (Assembly not yet public information)
     January 2010 Lame Duck Legislative Schedule
     12-15-09 Also on the GSCS Radar Screen
     12-15-09 On the GSCS Radar Screen: S2850 poised for a vote
     11-17-09 Politickernj's 'Inside Edge' on Possible Education Committee Chairs
     11-19-09 GSCS HEADS UP: Prevailing Wage bills on 'lame duck fast track' to be heard on 11-23-09
     11-13-09 Education Week on: Gov-elect Christie's Education Agenda; Race to the Top Funds Rules
     11-12-09 p.m. Lame Duck Schedule Announced
     10-26-09 'High school sports spending grows as budgets get tighter inNew Jersey'
     10-2009 On the GSCS Radar Screen
     10-1-09 Education Week on Acheivement Gap narrowing; Algebra Testing
     10-1-09 Information on S2850 Prevailing Wage bill - food service workers included
     9-29-09 My Central NJ article on merging v home rule struggle
     GSCS Report on its Annual Meeting June 2009
     9-27-09 Education News of Note
     9-23-09 'Tests changing for special ed students'
     9-13-09 As an issue for N.J.(Gubernatorial election), schools are in'
     8-10-09 News of Note
     8-7-09 'Bill would strengthen teacher tenure rights'
     7-14-09 Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
     6-26-09 Floor Amendment to A1489 re Extracurricular fees
     6-26-09 Executive Director to GSCS Trustees; Wrap Up Report - State Budget and Assembly bills this week
     6-26-09 Education Issues in the News
     6-23-09 A4141 & S3000 clarifies how to eliminate Non-Operating school districts
     6-23-09 Grassroots at Work re A4140, A4142 and A1489
     6-23-09 Press of Atlantic City on Assembly Education hearing yestserday
     6-22-09 Assembly Education moves bills out of committee
     6-22-09 GSCS Testimony A1489, A4140, A4142
     6-22-09 Bills A4140, 4142, and A1489
     6-21-09 Assembly Education hearing for 6-22 9 am
     6-15-09 GSCS Testifies on its concerns re S2850
     6-11-09 GSCS - it sometimes defies logic
     4-5-09 The Record, Sunday April 5, Front Page Opinion
     4-5-09 A new approach to an old math problem'
     12-28-08 NY Times 'Pension Fight Signals What Lies Ahead'
     12-29-08 NJ to new leaders - Fund our schools
     12-21-08 GSCS EMAILNET - Excerpts
     11-25-08 Perspective piece criticizes recent Supreme Court Abbott decision
     11-24-08 Editorial asks for preschool initiative slow down
     11-23-08 'State lacks financial incentives to sell concept of school mergers'
     11-4-08 NCLB early test results
     10-6-08 D.O.E. October Workshops on Transforming High Schools
     10-6-08 October Workshops on Tranforming High Schools
     GSCS, Special Education Coalition for Funding Reform, and Rutgers Institute co-sponsor Forum Oct 7th
     10-8-08 GSCS spotlights preschool expansion implementation issues as a prioirty
     9-30-08 Senate Education Committee meets 10-2-08
     9-24-08 Editorials re High School Redesign issues
     9-24-08 Commissioner of Education at Assembly Education Committee yesterday
     9-24-08 Supreme Court hearing on constitutionality of School Funding Reform Act
     6-17-08 School bills passed in Assembly yesterday
     6-13-08 News on Education Committee actions yesterday in Trenton
     4-07 The CORE bill 'A4' in its entirety
     5-15-08 Bills A10 and A15 already posted for a vote in the Assembly this Monday 5-19-08
     9-20-07 New Jersey School Boards Assoc. Releases its Report on Special Education
     9-20-07 With eyes on the future, justices look back at Abbott
     7-31-07 EMAILNET Status of School Funding Formula, more
     Public Education Institute Forum 9-19-07
     Recent education Research articles of note from Public Educ Network
     8-9-06 Special Session Jt Comm on Consolidation of Govt Services meeting 8-8-06
     8-2-06 Special Session 4 committees description
     8-2-06 Legislature's descriptoin of Jt Comm on School Funding Reform
     7--31-06 Legislature appoints Joint Committees on Property Tax Reform
     7-29-06 School Funding formula draws mixed reactions
     7-28-06 Gov to legislature: make history, cut taxes
     7-27-06 Trenton begins its move to address property taxes
     7-25-06 Associated Press Prop Tax Q & A
     7-19-06 Ledger -Advocates sue for release of report on school funding
     7-16-06 (thru 7-21-06) Bergen Record series investigate cost of NJ public services & property tax link
     7-18-06 Live from the Ledger
     7-18-06 Education Law Center takes state to court over funding study
     7-18-07 Star Ledger on high taxes & quality education in one town
     7-16-06 Bergen Record series investigate cost of NJ public services & property tax link
     7-14-06 EMAILNET
     7-13-06 Articles - Property tax issues, teacher salaries, voucher suit filing
     7-12-06 Statehouse starts talking specifics about property tax reform
     7-11-06 Talk of Special Session on Property Tax Reform
     6-15-06 Star Ledger, Gannet articles- Abbott advocates demand school reform at educ. dept
     A54 Roberts - Revises title and duties of county supterintendent
     Status of Senate bills related to SCI report
     6-12-06 EMAILNET - Extraordinary Special Education student aid; FY07 Budget 'crunch' is on; news clips
     6-6-06 Legislative Leaders announce initial plans for property tax reform
     S1546 Moves School Elections - GSCS Position
     Representative GSCSTestimonies
     Funding Coalition submits paper 'Beginning Discussions on School Funding Reform'
     Find Your Legislator
     5-14-06N Y Times 'For school budgets the new word is NO'
     Assembly Speaker Roberts proposes 'CORE' plan for schools & towns
     AR168 WatsonColeman-Stanley
     5-16-06 EMAILNET Action in Trenton
     5-10-06 A Lot is going on - Major News fromTrenton
     5-9-06 Supreme Ct freezes aid & Asm Budget Comm grills DOE Commissioner
     4-21-06 School budget election fallout - politicians & press comment
     3-28-06 GSCS testimony before Assembly Budget Comm today
     4-17-06 EMAILNET
     4-8-07 Corzine Administration files brief with Supreme Court re Abbott funding
     4-16-06 Star Ledger editorial & article re Gov v. Abbott from 4-15-06
     3-28-06 GSCS testimony before Assembly Budget Comm
     Legislative Calendar during State Budget FY07 process
     3-24-06 Schools learn who wins, loses in Corzine budget
     3-10-06 Star Ledger 'Time is ripe for poorer districts to contribute.
     2-22-06 New York Times NCLB - 20 states ask for flexibility
     2-1-06 EMAILNET GSCS Advocacy FY07 Budget; On the Homepage Today
     Governor Corzine's Transition Team Reports
     1-25-06 Star Ledger 'School District's Woes Point to Rising Tax Resistance'
     1-19-06 EMAILNET Quick Facts, On the Homepage Today
     The Record7-10-05 Sunday Front Page Must Read
     GSCS submission to Governor Corzine's Education Policy Transiton Team
     1-15-06 The Record 2 Sunday Articles anticipating top issues confronting the Corzine administration
     1-15-06 Sunday Star Ledger front page on Property Taxes
     1-12-06 Star Ledger 'Lawmaker pushes tax relief plan'
     12-14-05 Asbury ParkPress Editorial 'Re-assess the ABC's of School Funding' notes the Governor's role is critical in making positive change occur
     Star Ledger 6-17-06 Seniors call for Tax Convention Senate Prefers Special Session
     Activists Hope to Revive School Funding Issue
     December 2005 Harvard Famiily Research Project Links
     12-5-05 Governor-elect Corzine selects policy advisory groups
     EMAILNET 12-3-05 Heads Up!
     YOU ARE INVITED - GSCS Invitation: Members and friends of education are invited to a December 7 Symposium on School Funding 'It's Time to get off the Dime - Pitfalls, Priorities and Potential'
     10-19-05 Courier Post-Gannett article on Gubernatorial Debate
     11-1-05 EMAILNET More information on Gubernatorial Candidates
     Lameduck Legislative Calendar November 10 2005 - January 9, 2006
     11-9-05 8 a.m. Election November 8 2005 information
     11-8-05 EMAILNET You are invited to Dec & Symposium on School Funding
     10-14-05 EMAILNET Parent question for Gubernatorial Candidates aired on 101.5 debate, SCC funds, Next Board meeting, press briefing notes
     November 8 2005 YOUR VOTE TODAY COUNTS ... Some news articles worth reading
     Education Law Center Issues Guildlines for Abbot School Districts
     10-16-05 Sunday Star Ledger & Gannet news articles on gubernatorial candidates take on important issues related to public education issues
     10-5-05 PRESS BRIEFING ON SCHOOL AID & FUNDING SPONSORED by Ad Hoc School Finance Discussion Group, GSCS is participant...10-6-05 ASbury Park Press (Gannett) & Press of Atlantic City articles
     Proposed State Budget for Fiscal Year 2006 - GSCS Testimony
     GSCS Testimony before Constitutional Convention Task Force
1-10-10 'Educators say consolidating school districts doesn't add up'
Courier-Post - "In theory, there is much to commend in state legislation aimed at saving taxpayers' money while improving education. But in reality, regionalizing and consolidating many of the approximately 600 school districts in the state may not be worthwhile from either a fiscal or an educational standpoint, school officials say..."

January 10, 2010

Educators say consolidating school districts doesn't add up

Courier-Post Staff

In theory, there is much to commend in state legislation aimed at saving taxpayers' money while improving education.

But in reality, regionalizing and consolidating many of the approximately 600 school districts in the state may not be worthwhile from either a fiscal or an educational standpoint, school officials say.

There is a lot to digest in the 79-page CORE Act of 2007, based on an initiative proposed by outgoing Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, D-Camden.

"Home rule sentiment is not what stops initiatives like this -- it's the financial impact," New Jersey School Boards Association spokesman Frank Belluscio said. "We are talking about a lot of readjustment having to do with taking on debt, taking on operations of schools, contracts with teachers. It's not a simple process."

The CORE Act created the position of a strong executive county superintendent who would, among other things, help guide existing non-K-12 districts -- and K-12s with fewer than 5,000 students -- toward creating consolidation plans. The act imposed a deadline of three years from its passage -- March 15, 2010 -- for the state's 21 executive county superintendents to submit overall plans to the state commissioner of education.

Because any plans would have to be approved by voters, referendums would be scheduled at the county superintendent's discretion. Although not specified, September 2010 was considered the target date.

But along the way, several things happened.

Districts realized, through feasibility studies, that the hoped-for financial savings were not likely to materialize through outright regionalization.

Given the economic climate, they were already of a mind-set to enact shared-service agreements, and were continuing to do so in order to balance their budgets and lessen the tax impact on voters.

With Gov. Jon S. Corzine's re-election bid defeat in November, the promise of a new administration and most likely a new commissioner of education has made district regionalization a bigger question mark than ever.

"(Governor-elect) Chris Christie has indicated he considers shared services more of a priority, and we agree," Belluscio said.

Since 1982, only four locally initiated regionalization proposals have succeeded in New Jersey, with South Jersey represented only by the merger of Bordentown Regional High School with the Bordentown City and Township elementary districts.

Camden County

In Voorhees, Eastern Regional High School Superintendent Harold Melleby doesn't expect district consolidation to happen.

"You'd have a lot of kicking and screaming," he said.

Eastern Regional joined with its three sending districts -- Berlin Borough and Gibbsboro, which already share one superintendent, and Voorhees -- to commission a study on the fiscal feasibility of becoming one district.

The study is being conducted at a cost of less than $5,000 by Rowan University Professor John Knorr, a former business administrator in Burlington County.

"Preliminary data show no savings. If anything, costs will go up. If we consolidate, Gibbsboro would take on debt service approved by other municipalities," Melleby said. "You could argue that eliminating superintendents would cut positions, but with the larger schools that might result, you'd need to hire assistant superintendents. Gibbsboro might have room in its classes to add more students, but then you'd have the added transportation cost. It doesn't add up," he said.

A major obstacle is teachers' salaries, which make up the bulk of the budget in large districts.

"The salary guide used is that of the largest school district in the merge -- most likely a high school district with a higher salary scale. It's absolutely certain you would see teacher salaries increase," Belluscio said.

Camden County Executive Superintendent Peggy Nicolosi hopes her projected district reconfiguration may stick. She asked superintendents in each grouping to meet and give her a final recommendation by December or January on who each wanted to consolidate with.

"They only have to give me something rudimentary," Nicolosi said. She envisioned having time to work out any kinks before presenting her report to the DOE. But, she added, she had no idea what might happen next should any referendums be held and defeated.

Besides the Eastern Regional family of districts, it seems certain that Black Horse Pike Regional would merge with its sending districts of Bellmawr, Gloucester Township and Runnemede, and Sterling High School would merge with its sending districts of Laurel Springs, Magnolia, Somerdale and Stratford plus Hi-Nella, which has no school. Hi-Nella students now attend Oaklyn, but the district has petitioned the DOE to sever that relationship and attend Stratford schools instead.

Like the Eastern group, the BHP and Sterling groups have commissioned feasibility studies.

Nicolosi hopes attrition will make for natural pairings. For example, Lawnside has an interim superintendent, while Barrington, Bellmawr and Berlin Township have interim business administrators.

"We're not looking at closing neighborhood schools or redistricting students to other schools. The only thing we're looking at differently is administrative," she said. "But we must cut costs, not incur costs, and get equal if not better educational programs. It won't be strictly dollar for dollar savings and reductions."

In Collingswood, which is too small to remain a stand-alone K-12 district under the legislation, Superintendent Scott Oswald has been meeting with his counterparts in Oaklyn and Woodlynne, which send their high school students to his district. Oaklyn's superintendent, Tommie Stringer, retired in December; Woodlynne already has an interim superintendent, Walter Rudder.

"Consolidation is off the table. It's very messy and we'd need to go into a deep study. That would take a while and no one has the money to pay for it," Oswald said.

Instead, the districts are considering shared services and are looking at several options, including sharing one superintendent. But that wouldn't save money, Oswald said, because it would require two new assistant superintendents. There is also the question of a perceived hierarchy.

"No one is comfortable with having Collingswood take over right away," Oswald said. The districts could not meet Nicolosi's Dec. 1 deadline to submit a plan to her.

In addition, Woodlynne may want to join with Pennsauken, which is large enough to stand alone. Oaklyn is also considering a merge with K-12 Audubon, which already accepts students from Mount Ephraim and the nonoperating Audubon Park district.

The scenario could play out like a game of musical chairs. Merchantville, which now sends students to Pennsauken for high school, is interested in severing that tie in favor of Haddon Township, another stand-alone district. Brooklawn, which now sends its high school students to Gloucester City, is eyeing Audubon.

Burlington County

In Burlington County, Executive County Superintendent Lester Richens sent a list of proposed feasibility studies to the DOE earlier this year. It included a couple of scenarios for the Lenape Regional High School District, which could become one comprehensive K-12 district with its eight sending districts, or four new K-12 districts -- one each for Mount Laurel, Evesham, Medford/Medford Lakes and Southampton/Shamong/Tabernacle/Woodland.

While Moorestown and three other districts fit the stand-alone model in Burlington County, Maple Shade, with about 2,000 students, does not.

All those studies now appear to be on hold, and a Burlington County task force that had been established to look at consolidation was recently canceled, Eastampton Superintendent Robert Krastek said.

Krastek said the study that would have looked at joining Rancocas Valley Regional High School District with its sending districts was never begun. He believes it would have shown a negative impact for his district, which consolidated its 700 students into one new K-8 school three years ago rather than repair two aging buildings. As a result, bus routes were cut from 11 to six, and heating costs went down.

"Right now, we are at the lower end of the county in terms of per-pupil spending, and 80 percent of our students can walk to school. Our concern is that students may be moved around," Krastek said.

Eastampton has already eliminated administrators. Krastek also serves as principal of grades six through eight. The elementary school principal directs the child study team. An assistant principal is also the director of instruction, technology and curriculum.

Krastek likes that he gets to walk the halls and pull bus and cafeteria duty.

"We're very hands-on. It helps make decisions at the board level that impact education. Also, having students in a K-8 building has given us an exciting, unique culture where older students work with younger ones," he said.

"Regionalization would more than likely result in an increase in taxes, more so than we've had in the past. I don't know how the township could bear it," Krastek said.

Gloucester County

In Gloucester County, Executive County Superintendent Mark Stanwood said regionalization is fraught with challenges.

"We have been much more aggressive on the other half of consolidation, which is shared services," he said.

Stanwood called the Gateway Group -- Gateway Regional High School District in Woodbury Heights and its four constituent districts -- the poster child for shared services. It has been sharing several administrative services for years. In September, the National Park, Westville and Woodbury Heights districts began buying superintendent services from Gateway after their superintendents left.

Two years ago, Stanwood asked Gloucester County's four regional school groups -- Delsea, Clearview, Gateway, Kingsway and their constituents -- to consider ways to share services, including business, transportation, child study/special education, and supervision of instruction.

"Clearview and Mantua now share a food services director, which saved $25,000. South Harrison and Kingsway entered into a facility management agreement," he said.

"It's challenging to have to answer to more than one board of education, with different policies. But if we can't accomplish what we want with regionalization, let's go with shared services," Stanwood said.

It's a sentiment shared by many in the region.

"We're not resisting sharing services. That's where the savings will be," said Melleby, Eastern's superintendent.

"Our group of districts wants to remain interactive. We want to remain a family. It's a wonderful partnership," Melleby said.

Reach Barbara S. Rothschild at (856) 486-2416 or barothschild@camden.gannett.com