Education

An Answer to Declining Enrollment in Warren? WHRHS Board of Education Discusses Adding Mountainside Students

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Credits: Brenda A. Nemcek
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WARREN, NJ - The Watchung Hills Board of Education discussed the possibility of the Mountainside school district joining Watchung Hills Regional High School at the last meeting. 

Due to declining enrollment at Watchung Hills, the addition of Mountainside could be a win-win. It would also mean that Watchung Hills would become a tri-county school -- with students from Morris, Somerset and Union counties.

Earlier this month, the Mountainside Board of Education sent a request for proposal (RFP) to Watchung Hills and board of education members discussed the matter, but decided against answering Mountainside's request due to an extremely tight time frame to respond.

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However, at last weeks meeting, Business Administrator Timothy Stys said he spoke with the business administrator from Mountainside and the deadline to respond has been extended.

“He did mention to me that this is like a first step for their district to look at and they are looking at different plans,” said Stys. “There is an October 15 deadline but I got the impression that it could go beyond that.”

Board members expressed concern about whether this was a serious inquiry that would be worth the time to consider and whether an RFP is an appropriate tool.

Stys said that he had the impression that the Mountainside Board of Education was serious.

Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett said, “It really requires a lot of investigating on our end in terms of a demographic study, to see if we even have the capacity. Beyond that, there is all of the other curricular and instructional implications to look at, for something as simple as what world language do their students take.”

“We certainly don’t want to have any massive time invested into this if it’s not going to go anywhere,” said Collins. “But reciprocally, if we can continue to comply and we have another opportunity to have ourselves prepared to be in this position, it is not a waste of time."

Mountainside has been sending its public school students to Governor Livingston in Berkeley Heights. The current contract, also known as a send-receive relationship agreement, expires after the 2016-17 academic year. 

Although a contract renegotiation is currently in progress between the two districts, Mountainside officials have also asked several other school districts within a 15-mile radius if they would be willing receive Mountainside high school students.

Mountainside solicited other demographically-similar districts, that are “most like” to their own, by way of a request for proposal (RFP), according to an announcement from school officials published on the Mountainside district website http://www.mountainsideschools.org/

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