“The Board of Education believes regionalization should go to a referendum,” local Board of Education President Elizabeth Eittreim told the Mayor and Council at last night’s council meeting.
Further, she said, the tri-district study will be completed in May and the board will hold a public meeting that same month to inform the public of the findings of the long time study.
Speaking during the public portion of the meeting, Ms. Eittreim said the report is not behind schedule, as has been reported, and will be ready in May to be released to the public. She however, declined Mayor Loretta Gluckstein’s request to have copies of the completed study to the governing body as soon as possible, reiterating instead it would be released for all the public to see next month.
The tri-district would send out announcements of meetings to discuss the findings of the regionalization study conducted by the tri-district for a K-12 district, rather than the current three schools, three boards of education situation.
The board president said the study is also looking at the possibility of joining with neighboring towns for a larger regional district, and said Sea Bright is definitely being considered. However, in a letter to the governing body in January 2021, the three boards indicated they did not want to regionalize with Sea Bright due to possible future hidden costs and liabilities.
The positive reactions from MS Eittreim on the release of the tri-district study in May and the opinion the question should go to a public referendum opens the door for Mayor Gluckstein to once again call for the borough council to set a date for a workshop meeting on the Porzio regionalization study which incorporates the tri-district as well as Sea Bright.
With Ms. Eittreim’s statements concerning the importance of a public referendum, the governing body could pass the necessary resolution at its May 26 meeting asking the Commissioner of Education for approval to put the question on the ballot in the November election as one option for regionalization. The Commissioner’s approval of a regionalization plan must be received by the borough in order to meet the August 15 deadline for having a question put on the November ballot.
Regina Keelen, a former board of education member, questioned the need for a November referendum since there does not appear to be any timeline for the state taking control of regionalization issues. Saying she does not care what either Highlands or Sea Bright does or has done about getting the matter on the ballot, she is only interested in Atlantic Highlands and being assured everything has been reviewed carefully and regionalization would provide benefits to this borough