School ... Still No Action

Although the question on whether the governing body should ask the Commissioner of Education to put the question of a K-12 school regionalization on the November ballot is not on the agenda for Thursday night’s regular meeting of the governing body, it promises to be a busy night.

Mayor Loretta Gluckstein is expected to make the motion to promote police officer Michael Zudonyi to the rank of lieutenant, filling the vacancy created by the promotion of Captain Harry Murtha last month. The governing body is also scheduled to approved Joseph Labella as a regular police officer, bringing the department’s complement to its full 15 members. Both appointments are at the recommendation of Police Chief Scott Reinert.

Sgt. Zudonyi is a graduate of Felician College with a degree in business management and a minor in criminal justice. He joined the local department as a class II officer in January, 2014, and was full time six months later. In January, 2020, he was promoted to sergeant and currently serves and is qualified in a number of instructional areas from firearms to field training.

Labella is a native of Hawaii who grew up in Jackson where he attended school before earning a degree from Ocean County College and a degree in arts and communication from Kean College. The son of a retired New York Police officer and a member of a family long involved in law enforcement, Labella served as Class 1 and II officer with the Avon department before starting in this borough as a Class II officer last December. He has completed field training as well as the police academy and has also assisted in active police duties here.

Council is also expected to approve the budget for the upcoming year, award a contract to DRM architects as redevelopment planners, and approve the purchase of six 25 foot tall flag poles at $11,550 for installation along the meridian on Memorial Parkway.

However, apparently council has not yet received, or has not completed reviewing if received, the anticipated feasibility study authorized by the tri-district regional boards of education. Council is apparently not taking any action on the resolution that would ensure time limitations are met in order to get a question on the November ballot. That question would enable voters to decide whether they want the three local boards of education, representing the three schools in Highlands and Atlantic HIghlands, to regionalize with neighboring Sea Bright for a three town school regionalization under a single board of education. Such a resolution has already been unanimously approved by Highlands and Sea Bright, but a decision by the commissioner requires a similar resolution from Atlantic Highlands.

Both Highlands and Sea Bright have indicated the possibility they might proceed with a second question which would regionalize those two municipalities and have Atlantic Highlands become a sending district to Henry Hudson Regional School. They have already contracted for a study for the regionalization of those two towns without Atlantic Highlands. That study will also be discussed as a possible alternative should Atlantic Highlands choose not to adopt a resolution for the three towns to have on the ballot.

Several residents indicated this week they plan on once again bringing up the regionalization issue during the public portion of Thursday’s meeting.


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