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January 24, 2014                                         

Re:  School-Municipal Cooperation Improves Services, Benefits Taxpayers

Dear Mayor:

Sound public policy demands ongoing communication between public schools and municipalities. Both the New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities have long advised their members to work cooperatively in areas of common concern, and there are many.  For decades, our organizations have set an example.

· In 1981, the League and the NJSBA issued one of the first state-level reports on shared services. Titled “The Art of the Possible,” the document outlined the financial benefits and improved services that could result from school district and municipal cooperation.

· In 1995, our organizations spearheaded a coalition that brought about the State Mandate-State Pay Constitutional Amendment, designed to avert the imposition of new state-required expenditures on municipalities and school districts.

· In 2011, following enactment of the 2 percent cap on tax levy increases, the NJSBA and the League co-sponsored a training program, “Collaborating on Real Solutions to the 2 Percent Cap,” which featured experts on the economy, education and government services and featured sessions on budgeting, labor negotiations and shared services. This was not an isolated example of sharing knowledge and perspective. Over the years, NJSBA and League officials have frequently presented at each other’s conferences on topics such as property tax reform and the prevention of gang violence.

· Last summer, the League and NJSBA joined forces to successfully oppose legislation that would have severely restricted school districts’ and municipalities’ ability to save taxpayer funds through the subcontracting of services. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the legislation. In the current economic climate, preserving the subcontracting option is vital for local government.

Today, the mutual concerns of schools and surrounding communities, ranging from school safety and security, to energy costs and preserving critical programs in the face of limited resources, will necessitate even more cooperation.

As our two organizations approach their respective centennials—2014 for the NJSBA and 2015 for the League—we are exploring new ways to move forward for the benefit of our members and the taxpayers they serve.

New Jersey State League of Municipalities and The New Jersey School Boards Association have worked steadfastly to improve public education and local government. Our members serve many of the same constituents and face similar challenges in terms of limited resources. For their benefit, we will continue to explore ways that our organizations can cooperate to promote creativity, cooperation and efficiency.

Sincerely,

Hon. Suzanne Walters
League President
Mayor, Stone Harbor

Hon. John Bulina
Member, Tabernacle Board of Education
President, New Jersey School Boards Association

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director
New Jersey League of Municipalities

Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod
Executive Director
New Jersey School Boards Association

 

 

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