Daily Record from Morristown, New Jersey on August 31, 1980 · Page 19
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Daily Record from Morristown, New Jersey · Page 19

Morristown, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 31, 1980
Page 19
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"" ' "' -L . j-.- t r i If "1 . 4--iV4 iV I The Mount Olive School District has grown quite a bit in breaking away from the West Morris regional district. The $7 million high school addition shown under way here is scheduled for completion by September, 1 981 . The new wing will provide space for long-needed additions to the cafeteria and library, a music room and 32 more classrooms. Staff Photos By STUART DAVIS By LINDA ROMAN Staff Writer Mount Olive High School's break with the West Morris Regional High School District can be compared to a child who leaves home for the first time the family has one less mouth to feed and the child, with new-found independence, can either sink or swim. It's been two years since Mount Olive High School split from the West Morris district "family," and it appears the child is beginning to make it on his or her own. And It doesn't seem the "family" has suffered because of it. Problems arose for the new Mount Olive K through 1.2th grade district formed after the split. A district-wide teachers' strike and a student rebellion against stricter high school educational policies are but two. Today, both the West Morris regional district and the Mount Olive district agree the benefits of deregionalization far , outweigh the disadvantages. "We're able to control our own destiny now," said Mount Olive superintendent Chester Stephens,. "My impression is that this district was not unhappy to see Mount Olive leave," said Robert Kish, who took over as West Morris district superintendent a year after deregionalization. Voters from the Mendhams, the Chesters, Washington Township and Mount Olive the communities which comprised the 1 30-square-mile district, with three high school buildings overwhelmingly approved a referendum for Mount Olive's withdrawal from the regional district in December 1 977. This made Mount Olive the first district in the state to do so. Deregionalization became effective July 1 , 1 978, , Although there was considerable concern administrative confusion would result from rearranging the school districts, there were very few critics of the withdrawal plan. ; ' There were some who did not believe the split would result in the lower costs predicted for each of the districts. Figures, however, show the opposite. In the 1 977-78 school year, before deregionalization, the total West Morris budget for expenses and debt service was $7.8 million. After Mount Olive split, in the school year 1 978-1 979, the budget was $5.7 million. This year, the West Morris budget totaled $6.6 million. Naturally, the Mount Olive budget increased. In the past three years, the budget has risen more than $4 million. The school tax rate, however, has decreased in that period by almost $1 per $1 00 of assessed valuation. "It shows we can run a district more cheaply on our own," said Stephens. "We were paying loads of money to West Mor Split Sch WEEK IN REVIEW. PATH Clears 'It's wonderful' was one tired commuter's reaction at the Morristown railroad station last week on hearing l of a tentative settlement in the 79-day-old PATH strike. ' Striking carmen voted Friday to ratify the new contract and spokemen for the Port Authority of New York ' and New Jersey said trains would be rolling again by 12:01 a.m. tomorrow. The settlement ends a long summer in which many commuters used buses to get to New York from the Conrail line's terminus in Hoboken, a trip one said could take from 25 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes, 'depending on traffic' v It's been hot, crowded and long.' Plug Pulled There will be no 'Music on the Mountain' today because a Superior Court judge granted Rockaway Township's request for a restraining order on the bluegrass rock concert planned at the Craigmeur Ski Area dol-District Finds Advantages ris. But did any go to Mount Olive? No." Now, the Mount Olive district is heavily in debt. Voters approved a $7 million addition in September 1 978. It's now under construction and scheduled for completion in September 1981. . The new addition will provide sorely needed facilities, including 32 classrooms, a music room and enlargement of the cafeteria and library. Earlier expansion plans were turned down three times by West Morris district voters, although it was apparent Mount Olive High School was overcrowded. So apparent was the problem that in 1 974, 1 00 students from Mount Olive were forced to transfer to West Morris Central High School in Washington Township for the next four years. It seemed there was little willingness on the part of regional district constituents to vote to build facilities outside their own communities. "I don't want to criticize the West Morris district, but when we were a part of it, Mount Olive High School was like a lone sister," said Stephens. "Now if people from the township desire something, they can get it there's local control." Other advantages for Mount Olive as a result of deregionalization include: Students can now go from kindergarten through 1 2th grade in the same school system, eliminating the confusion of spending kindergarten through eighth grade in one system and high school in another. There was not much connection between grade school and high school programs when Mount Olive was part of the regional district, Stephens said. 'It's the best for the kids,' says high school Principal William Wolgamuth. 'When we wanted to build the addition, they (regional voters) voted it down. Then we passed it right off the bat.' there. Judge Reginald Stanton said he did not think the township was epuipped to handle some of the health, safety and traffic problems associated with the 5,000 fans expected to attend. Attorneys for Craigmeur.the promoters and several other investors said the decision left no time to appeal. Township Attorney Fredric Sirota based his arguments against the planned concert on township zoning, consideration of the health and welfare of neighbors and those attending and the state's 'mass gathering' law, which covers rock festivals of more than 18 hours' duration. Defense attorneys called Sirota's concerns about the adequacy of water, toilet, food and medical facilities 'gloom and doom' predictions and said they weren't expecting the usual rock festival drug problems. - Power Play Breakdowns and low-quality service would result if a rate hike request by the Jersey Central Power & This was partially due to the high turnover rate in elected representatives to the regional high school board. Many other regional school board members from Mount Olive stopped attending or sporadically attended regional high school board meetings, creating a gap between the local elementary school board and the regional high school board. Greater community and school spirit is being generated for Mount Olive High School. Mount Olive residents saw the regional school board as something "over there" and very few attended board meetings, Stephens said. , Initially, students rebelled when the new administration changed the open-campus type educational policy and enforced stricter graduation requirements. The new administration also did away with a smoking patio for students. The result? Vandalism and absence rates rose and student morale lowered. It appears now that students are settling into the system, administrators said. Advantages to the West Morris district as a result of deregionalization include: The district became more compact in terms of staff, buildings and square mileage, making the district easier to run. Because West Morris Central is no longer responsible for accommodating the overflow of students at Mount Olive High School, solutions to overcrowding at Central can be handled more efficiently. Overcrowding Is an existing problem at Central. This year, to overcome the problem, some Central students will be bused to West Morris Mendham High School, much to the Light Co. is denied, company President Shepard Bartnoff said last week. The company's case for its requested $78 million increase was made before a special session of the state Board of Public Utilities held Monday at Sparta High School. The increase the sixth requested in 17 months would raise the typical bill by about 7 percent. The utility's dependence on the crippled Three Mile Island nuclear plant and temporary closing of the Oyster Creek facility necessitated purchases from a number of power companies, said Bartnoff. Some 35 residents attending the session, however, weren't sympathetic. 'It'll all go to salaries, to more mismanagement,' said Robert Lee of Andover Township. 'I don't care what the executives say,' state Sen. Wayne Dumont, R-Dist. 15, said, claiming the requested increases outpaced oil price rises for the last year. Bartnoff also announced availability of off-peak rates for customers, reducing nighttime costs to discourage use during peak daytime hours. The utility later last week an agitation of some of those students and their parents. The disadvantages to both districts: Due to Mount Olive's population and the loss of sending an overflow of students to Central, high school expansion was necessary. Despite the cost, many in Mount Olive saw this as a blessing in disguise which would improve educational facilities. The flexibility of being able to accommodate students special needs, by transferring them to the different schools within the regional district, was lost. Some teachers who were located in Central and Mendham High Schools left the district as a result of the "bumping" process. Under the withdrawal plan, all teachers at Mount Olive High School had the legal right to remain there. Tenured teachers at lount Olive had the right to stay with the West Morris regional district by replacing ("bumping") a similarly certified teacher with less seniority either at Central or Mendham High School. Some 1 3 Mount Olive teachers out of 75 on the staff chose to "bump" to stay with the district. One former Mount Olive teacher said he chose to remain with the regional district because the pay was higher. Since last year's teachers' strike in Mount Olive salaries in the two districts are becoming comparable. After talks between the Mount Olive school board and the regional teachers' association, an agreement was reached that teachers who were "bumped" would be offered a job with the Mount Olive dis-. tricf if the teachers were in good standing. r k , i nounced it will try to ease cash flow problems by selling some 550,000 pounds of uranium netting over $17million. The 'yellow cake' ore was purchased to be further refined into fuel rods for JCP&L's Forked River nuclear plant, where construction was suspended shortly after the Three Mile Island shutdown. Massive cleanup costs from that incident have hammpered the borrowing power of Jersey Central's parent company, the General Public Utilities Corp. of Parsippany, said JCP&L spokesman George Metzgar. Proceeds from the sale will help reduce the company's debt and increase its borrowing ability. Donations Spokesmen for U.S. Sen' Bill Bradley and Rep. James Courier, who were named in a list of public officials receiving donations from the chemical industry, angrily denied last week that the money bought any influence with the two. Courier, R-Dist. 13, and Bradley, D-N.J. were cited by Ralph Nader's Pub Therefore, no one lost a job as a result of deregionalization. Since it seems deregionalization was mostly for the good of everyone involved, why didn't it happen sooner? The main reason it didn't occur before 1 978 was because the state had no legi station providing for a referendum on deregionalization, said Muriel Wolfe, recently retired regional school board secretary. Because of the interest generated in the West Morris regional split, Gov. Brendan Byrne in late 1977 signed enabling legislation. In 1 957 Mount Olive, together with Chester, Chester Township, Mendham, Mendham Township and Washington Township, formed the West Morris Regional High School District. Each municipality's population at that '. time was too small to support separate high schools, so local committees studied regionalization possibilities. West Morris Central High School became the district's first school in 1 958. In 1 970, a second school was built in Mendham. In 1 972, the third high school was built in Mount Olive. In 1 977, a report prepared by consultant Bruce W. Tuckerman of Rutgers University recommended Mount Olive withdraw. The report concluded it was unlikely Mount Olive would receive a fair share by remaining in the district because of unequal distribution of resources among the three district high schools. The report noted the student bodies of the three high schools differ in important ways educationally and district management had not responded to those differences. The report predicted what has come true: the Mount Olive district is able to operate a K through 1 2th grade school system at reduced costs to the taxpayers. ' Central Principal Ronald Batistoni said deregionalization had little effect on regional district schools. "It really didn't make any difference here because it (Mount Olive) was pretty much a separate school." Mount Olive High School Principal William Wolgamuth said the break from the regional district worked out "very, very well. It's the best for the kids. We increased graduation credits for more education, we have a better reading program, new band uniforms. There's no animosity, but when we wanted to build the addition, they (regional voters) voted it down. Then we passed it right off the bat." Traveling on Route 206 in Mount Olive, there's a sign pointing up Mooney Road to the high school that is the school's only connection to its past. The sign points the way to "West Morris Mount Olive High School." Mount Olive Superintendent Stephens chuckles when asked about it. "It shows we have no bad feelings." lic Citizen Congress Watch for receiving $10,775 and $5,350 respectively from chemical industry political action committees. Occidental Petroleum, owner of the Hooker Chemical Co., which has been charged with responsibility for the Love Canal contamination, gave Bradley $1,000 and Courier $800. Bradley's staff, calling the report guilt by association,' noted the freshman Democrat is 'determined' to push legislation he co-sponsors, which would require chemical manufacturers to contribute to a 'super-fund' to clean up such toxic waste dumps. The Nader group had charged that many of those accepting contributions were actively opposing the legislation. Bradley's office protested the re-' port and demanded clarification, said Congress Watch team member Tom Sutton. 'Bradley was listed only because he crossed the $5,000 line,' said Sutton. 'Actually, Bradley has been one of the strongest supporters of the su-perfund and has been pushing for an early vote before adjournment.' -i t n m mi tmr t r.rn n ii a ifi t n n tr m-t it it 1

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