Sen. Oroho and Sparta Board of Education Response to Newton Mayor's County Consolidation School Plan

Sen. Steve Oroho at a meeting in Newton Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks
Credits: Jennifer Dericks

SPARTA, NJ – Last week Newton Mayor Wayne Levante addressed the Sparta township council looking for support for his plan to call for the consolidation of all public schools into a county system.  In his comments he referenced legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho that supported Levante’s postion.

Oroho said he had co-sponsored legislation two years in a row that called for a study of the regionalization issue.  It had passed in the senate but he was “not sure why it never got movement in the assembly.”

His proposal was to “put together a task force not unlike the one on which he served on unemployment.”  The idea was to “start the conversation.” 

Sign Up for E-News

Oroho said “he did not have any preconceived model to push for” such as the one Levante is espousing.  Oroho said it would be good to talk about “how we do things,” and to find out “what are the barriers, what are the unintended consequences.”

Oroho acknowledged when it comes to public education in New Jersey it is unlikely that one single solution would be appropriate for all districts.  He said “where consolidation may work for some, shared services might work for others.”  Oroho also talked about having alternative districts or “Centers of Excellence,” as another option to be considered in the consolidation discussion. 

The senator recognized there are some “state impediments” to regionalization and they need to be explored.  He also said some of the barriers to regionalization are from “powerful organizations,” and that there are “contractual issues” to be considered as well. 

He also cautioned that if not done correctly Federal aid might be lost.

Any change to the educational model in New Jersey would have to be rolled out incrementally, to be able to identify and fix any negative unintended consequences, according to Oroho.  “There is always going to be a transition plan, to get to a new model.”

Levante also cautioned the council members to be “wary of board of education members, because they just want to keep their job.”  He said they “won’t do a study.”

Sparta Superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi delivered a response to Levante’s comments and proposal, on behalf of the Sparta Board of Education:

“The concept of providing the best educational opportunities for the students of Sparta in the most efficient and cost effective manner as possible has been and always will be the primary objective of the Sparta Board of Education.  Accordingly, consolidation of programs and services is worthy of continued investigation.  Currently, there are many examples of districts sharing personnel, partnering on services, and together offering programs and professional opportunities.  These have helped to curb costs while maintaining a commitment to high quality learning experiences for all students.    

The idea of consolidated school districts is not new, with state and local task forces having looked at the idea during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.  Each of those studies identified numerous issues, risks, and benefits.  We would expect that the same issues would arise and need to be addressed, not only in terms of potential fiscal savings, but also those surrounding governance, local control, curriculum, personnel, transportation, union contracts, facility consolidations, and the like.

The recent proposal from Mayor Levante of Newton is currently just a concept without any valid data, fiscal projections, or operational changes, all of which would need to be vetted in order to assess its viability.  In addition, it does not address the myriad State and NJ Department of Education regulatory changes that would need to occur in order to implement a county-wide consolidated school system.  It is not as easy as saying ‘Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania have it, so we should be able to adopt their models’ (or versions thereof), without taking into consideration associated regulatory requirements and specific issues that affect Sussex County and New Jersey.

We agree with the Sparta Town Council that in order to assess the viability to further pursue this plan requires more details and specific goals.  This is paramount in order to establish a full and complete assessment of any restructuring plan while maintaining the high educational standards that we have achieved and continue to provide the children of Sparta, Sussex County, and the State of New Jersey.  This endeavor will require the involvement and input from all stakeholders, including state and local governments, boards of education, educators, administrators, financial and operational restructuring experts, and members of the community to ensure that any proposed changes can increase efficiency and cost savings while maintaining and improving the educational standards that we currently enjoy.  

School systems are much more than teachers and students in classrooms.  They provide opportunities for cultural, social, and civic engagement.  How this reality unfolds is unique to each community, and those distinctive features are what traditions are founded upon.  It is that component of our educational and municipal structures that makes New Jersey an attractive place to live, work, and raise children.  It is why so many of our towns have second, third, and fourth generations represented in their neighborhoods.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Newton Pedestrian In Critical Condition After Being Hit by Car

February 21, 2018

NEWTON, NJ-- High Street/ Route 94 has re-opened between Park Place and Liberty Street after a pedestrian was hit by a car near the intersection of Church Street earlier today according to police.

Around 2:26 p.m. the Newton Police Department received multiple 9-1-1 calls reporting the accident..Officers  responding to the scene found Michael Bencivenga, a 70-year-old resident ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, February 27, 6:30 PM

Sparta United Methodist Church, Sparta

Girl Scout STEAM Program

Arts & Entertainment Education


Fri, March 2, 7:00 PM

Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Hamburg

The Drowsy Chaperone

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 3, 7:00 PM

Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Hamburg

The Drowsy Chaperone

Arts & Entertainment


AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Sparta Boy Scout Troop 150 Honors New Eagles

February 19, 2018

SPARTA, NJ - On Sunday, January 21, 2018 Scouts, parents and friends of Boy Scout Troop 150, along with members of the Sparta community, gathered at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church to celebrate the eight of the Troop’s newest Eagle Scouts.  Buddy Al-Aydi, Tyler Holden, Andreas Oleinyk, Ben Schultz, Erich Schwarzrock, Quinn Van Es, Zach Van Es and Chris Zachok attained the ...

Height during childhood associated with increased stroke risk in adulthood

Researchers in Denmark studied the health records of more than 300,000 people born between 1930 and 1989 and found that those who were shorter than average height between ages 7 and 13 had a greater risk of stroke as adults. The results of this study were published in the February 15, 2018 issue of the journal Stroke.


Journal ...

Very Hot Tea Increases Cancer Risk

Researchers in China studying the consumption of “burning” hot tea, alcohol, and smoking habits of greater than 450,000 people ages 30 –79 for more than nine years found a five time greater risk of esophageal cancer in those who engaged in all three of the behaviors and a two time greater risk in those who either smoked or drank alcohol and consumed burning hot tea as compared ...

Don't Miss This OPEN HOUSE Saturday for a 3BR Parsippany Trophy Home

Treat yourself to this newly-priced trophy home in majestic Puddingstone Estates in Parsippany, NJ!   See the details here or stop by the OPEN HOUSE on February 24th, 1 to 3 pm. If you can't make it, call Team Nest Builder's Lynn Garafola at 973-222-3777 for a private tour. 

You must experience this beautiful home to believe it!  It's ...

Where Does YOUR School District Rank in Safety?

Family safety remains paramount when it comes to choosing a new home and community in New Jersey, so Team Nest Builder wants to help you know where top local school districts rank., which specializes in all different types of consumer rankings, provided a list of the safest school districts in the United States and New Jersey. Below find a list of the 200 safest school ...

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling in NJ

Team Nest Builder knows that whether you are buying or selling a New Jersey home it can be quite the adventure, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal. But in this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ...

Does Marriage or Mortgage Come First?

According to the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics in 2017 at 57% of all buyers. Team Nest Builder knows it's no surprise that having two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs makes buying a home more ...

Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders February 14 2018 Meeting Video

NEWTON, NJ - Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders February 14 2018 Meeting Video 



AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Sparta UMC Thrift Shop Holds Bag Sale

February 22, 2018

The Thrift Shop of the Sparta United Methodist Church, 71 Sparta Avenue, is holding a bag sale from Wednesday, MARCH 14TH through Saturday, MARCH 17TH.  Most items in the shop that can fit in a grocery bag can be purchased for $5 per bag. Shop Hours:  Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  All proceeds support local, national, and global ...

Paterson's Poet Laureate

February 13, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- The City of Paterson has given birth to famous athletes, business leaders, actors, and now, a poet laureate.

Born and raised in Paterson, Talena Lachelle Queen told TAPinto Paterson that she has been writing since she was five-years old, and, as she grew older, realized that when it came to pursuing studies and a career in writing, she “didn’t have a choice.” ...