Newton Mayor Asks Sparta Council to Support County School Consolidation Initiative

Newton Mayor Wayne Levante at a Newton Council meeting Credits: Jennifer Dericks

SPARTA, NJ – Newton Mayor Wayne Levante spoke at the Sparta Township Council meeting on Tuesday night asking for support for his initiative to have all New Jersey public schools consolidate at the county level.

Taking the microphone during public comment, Levante told the council members about his efforts to have all municipalities in the county pass a resolution supporting his initiative.  While he ultimately wants schools consolidated into county schools, he said a resolution from Sparta asking for a study into the merits of the initiative would be a good first step.

After explaining his credentials as a former teacher in Paterson with “six certifications, four as a teacher and two at the administrative level including Business Administrator,” Levante said he was “trying to increase revenue and spur development.”

Sign Up for E-News

He said there is a lot of redundancy in the county.  “Each of the 25 school districts have their own superintendents and his support staff and a business administrator and his support staff.” 

Levanta said, “The public in Newton and the county are appalled when they hear about the expenditures.”

Some smaller districts in Sussex County and throughout the state have a principal that also serves as the Chief School Administrator fulfilling the duties of superintendent, according to the New Jersey Department of Education.

Levante pointed to large districts like Paterson, where schools have more students then compared to districts in Sussex. He said they are much larger and function with one superintendent and one business administrator. 

A review of the Paterson school district administration shows a Superintendent’s Cabinet with an Acting State District Superintendent, Acting State Deputy Superintendent, Chief of Staff, Business Administrator, Chief Data, Accountability and Technology Officer, Acting Chief Special Education Officer and four Assistant Superintendents.  Additionally, there are seven Executive Directors and Associate Chiefs as well as 21 Directors. There are more than 25,000 students in the Paterson district according to the New Jersey Department of Education.

Levante said many states operate on a county model such as “Maryland, Mississippi and Florida. I know people say New Jersey has a high level of education but it’s not about money.  It’s about the education at home.

“I’m not looking to destroy the public school system but have a study done to see what savings there would be,” Levante said.  “As an educator, I don’t think it would change education.”

Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith said, “Sparta has a school district that is ranked 114 nationally and I wouldn’t want to change it.  There is not any other school in the county even in the top 500.  I‘m so please with the Sparta schools.  I’m only concerned about Sparta.”

“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Levante said.  “I’m mostly focused on Newton too.”

On the topic of creating a study Levante said “school boards won’t do it, superintendents won’t do it, County Superintendent Dr. Lamonte has not done it.”  He said Lamonte has been tasked by the state to conduct the study he is looking for and was even given a budget to do so.

Lamonte said, “Unfortunately neither the New Jersey Department of Education nor our Sussex County Office of Education budget has the funds for feasibility studies, despite what Mayor Levante may have stated.”

Levante was asked several times about funding for his proposed study. He did not know how much it would cost but said “Trenton could find the money if all of the towns in the county asked to have it done.”  He offered several estimates from $50,000 to $200,000. 

Lamonte said, at her invitation, she and County Business Administrator Neil Cramer met with Harvey Roseff who brought Levante, Dan Pagano and Gino Genovese to discuss “the potential benefits as well as possible financial drawbacks to school consolidation.”

oseff ran for Byram Council and Sussex County Freeholder. 

Lamonte said she and Cramer “emphasized that there are many school districts now sharing programs, services and personnel and that districts seem to find this preferable to consolidation since there are almost always financial winners and losers in a consolidation scenario.”

Levante acknowledged Newton, Green and Andover had discussed consolidation but that “Green was going to be the loser,” with “no tax savings” for the taxpayers in Green.

“As per current statutes, regionalization requires voter approval of all constituent sectors of the school districts involved,” Lamonte said.  “It is extremely difficult to gain voter approval if taxes will go up for a specific district.”

Councilman Josh Hertzberg said the township and the school district have a good relationship of shared services.  “We haven’t seen savings with shared services county wide,” Hertzberg said.

 “I’m perturbed that some don’t even want to exam it,” Levante said. 

“In Sparta we would want a specific study for Sussex County for us to support it,” Hertzberg said.

“As a council we are always looking for ways to save taxpayers of Sparta money,” Mayor Gil Gibbs said. “Members need to talk to the community and the board of education before making a decision.”

“Be wary of the school board because no one is going to advocate getting rid of their job,” Levante said.

Councilwoman Christine Quinn asked about the relevance of the current [state] administration “looking at the funding formula to get more money for non-Abbott districts.  Is something coming in on a higher level from the secretary of education?”

Levante had spoken about “drawing attention to Sussex County” and” getting some of the Abbott money to come back to the county.”  

“Sussex County is being neglected,” Levante said.  “It’s about time they pay attention to it,” as he explained he is “getting calls to speak in Trenton” on the topic.

Levante said Senator Steve Oroho has introduced legislation to the senate on the issue.  According to Levante this legislation had unanimous support in the Senate but stalled in the Assembly.  He said it was not a partisan issue.

Lamonte said she understood Levante favored a “county-wide school system. This would require legislative changes to current statutes, particularly because a county-wide system would eliminate the local home rule system that currently exists in New Jersey.”

Newton, Sussex Borough and Green have already adopted resolutions, according to Levante.  He said he is going to every municipality in the county to ask for support for his initiative.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Drunk Brooklyn Man Asks Police to Shoot Him

May 20, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Brooklyn man was taken for observation when he asked police to shoot him after having crashed his car down an embankment on County Road 517 near the Sparta Middle School.  On May 17 around 2:06 a.m. Sparta Police Officers Brian Porter and Timothy Lynott found Joshua Lindland of Brooklyn asleep in the driver’s seat of a gray Audi against a tree, police ...

Sparta Police: Passengers Face Drug Charges in Traffic Stop

SPARTA, NJ – Two Wantage women face drug charges after the car they were in was stopped for a broken headlight on Route 15.  On May 5 around 2 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin pulled over Alex Torres, 22, driving a white Honda Accord with two passengers, police say.

The officer saw a metal marijuana grinder behind the driver’s seat.  The car and ...

JCP&L Latest Information, Free Ice and Water

SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – As of 8:47 p.m. JCP&L is reporting 12,745 customers or 22.11 percent, are without power in Sussex County.  In Sparta 2749 or 32 percent remain in the dark.

JCP&L said they anticipate the “vast majority of the remaining customers to be restored to service by late Thursday.”

JCP&L customers without power can get ice and water ...

Republican Party Values

May 21, 2018

Campaigns are interesting things.

Throughout the process, my opponents' supporters have labeled me a "political prostitute", "pimping" a message as a "spokesperson". I've been in a public meeting when referred to as a "lackey" who 
"belongs in a cage like the animal you are".

It's been said directly to me by a ...

Ethical Or Political Stunt

On May 9th Sussex County Freeholder Director Jonathon Rose announced formation of the Sussex County Transparency Committee. A committee established to monitor the ethics of County politicians.  

Alarming is what was left out of this announcement. Besides naming the dynamic duo Lazzaro and Graham, two other names show cause for curiosity. Jonathon never acknowledged, nor did he ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, May 23, 7:00 PM

Livingston Community Center (lower level), Livingston

NJ-11 Congressional Candidates Debate, hosted by ...


Thu, May 24, 6:00 PM

Sparta High School Media Center, Sparta

Sparta High School Art Gala

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, May 26, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sat, May 26, 11:00 AM

Sparta High School Media Center, Sparta

Sparta High School Art Gala

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sat, June 9, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Sat, June 16, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Thu, June 21, 2:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Summer Afternoon Garden Soiree

Home & Garden

Newton's Petition to Move Election Certified, Tabled to May 30 by Council

May 15, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The petition to move elections from May to November was certified by the clerk and presented to the Newton Town Council at the meeting on Monday night.  The petition has been circulating since April and was a point of controversy in the recent council election campaigns.

According to the town attorney, the town clerk certified “369 valid signatures of qualified ...

10-Year Old Boy Battling Cancer Receives Generous Donation From Randolph Hockey Family

May 20, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real life battles off the ice there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the Randolph Varsity hockey team, when they came together to deliver good wishes and ...

Is Your First Home Within Your Grasp Now?


Bottom Line

According to the US Census Bureau, ‘millennials’ are defined as 18-36-year-olds.

According to NAR’s latest Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the median age of all first-time home buyers is 32.

More and more ‘old millennials’ (25-36) now realize homeownership is within their grasp now!

Are YOU ready for ...

Find Your Dream Home During Our DOUBLE Open House Weekend!

The forecast for this weekend is rain, rain, and more rain---so why not spend your time touring your new home?  Team Nest Builder offers 2 wonderful Open Houses this weekend, PLUS a new listing for you to check out via video tour!

27 Hilltop Trail, Sparta

Step into your own fairytale with this Lake Mohawk, storybook-sweet 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom gem! Gather in front of the rustic ...

Help Feed Hungry Sussex County Families Through Foodstock

Did you realize food pantry shortages INCREASE during the summer months? Decreased donations and increased need due to the summer break from school lunch and breakfast programs leave many Sussex County families hungry.  

Enter Foodstock:  an annual spring countywide food drive started 15 years ago through the coordinated efforts of Pass it Along, United Way of Northern New Jersey, ...

3 Tips for Making Your Home-Ownership Dream a Reality


Here's Highlights:

Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check = one of the best ways to save without thinking much about it.

Living within a budget right now helps you save money for down payments while also paying down other debts holding you back.  What are you willing to cut back on to make your dreams of homeownership ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!


Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders May 9 video

SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ - Video of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders May 9 meeting. 


SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

Making Matters: Fresh Perspectives in Fine Craft

May 22, 2018

On display are exceptional examples of contemporary crafts by Peters Valley School of Craft’s resident artistic staff and visiting instructors.  The eclectic show features objects in metal, ceramics, fibers, fine metals, photography, woodworking, and mixed media, reflecting the array of courses offered at the school. Opening Reception June 2nd 5-7pm.