'No Authority' To Hold Special Election On School Merger: Central

BERKELEY, NJ — The Central Regional School District is opposing the latest news that Toms River wishes to hold a special election in April on the proposed merger of its school district and Seaside Heights.

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The latest proposal would keep Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School in Seaside Heights open for another five years. District officials want to hold an election on the proposed merger on April 16, 2024. Read more: Merger Proposal Amended To Keep Seaside Heights School Open

But Central Regional, having opposed the merger since the beginning, is arguing that there is no legal authority to hold a special election on that date.

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Elections on the third Tuesday in April are only for districts that have not moved their regular elections to November, Eric Harrison, the attorney representing Central Regional, wrote in a letter to the New Jersey Department of Education shared with Patch.

The only dates that special school elections are allowed are March 12, 2024 and Sept. 17, 2024, Harrison said.

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“Thus there exists no statutory authority to schedule a special election in Toms River or in Seaside Heights on April 16, 2024,” he wrote.

Harrison, who wrote that he had not been aware of the Toms River Regional School District’s Feb. 27 letter that outlined this request and the new information about keeping the elementary school open until he had read about it in the Toms River Patch, also argued that the district seemingly did not have the best interest of the students in mind.

The decision to keep Boyd Elementary School opening was made “without a supporting certification, Board resolution or any other legally binding document,” according to Harrison.

“This new concession by TRRS demonstrates that the creative leaps they have taken in an effort to obtain expedited approval of Seaside Heights leaving CRSD and joining TRRS is not driven by ‘what is best for the kids,’ as they now agree that Boyd Elementary School remaining open ‘for the foreseeable future’ is indeed ‘what is best for the kids,'” he wrote.

Instead, Harrison argues that “what is best for the kids” is for the Department of Education is a full study of both the Toms River/Seaside Heights regionalization proposal and Central Regional’s own regionalization proposal with its sending districts.

This study “presumably could be commenced and completed within the 2024-2025 school year during which TRRS has represented it would not be closing Boyd Elementary School, regardless of whether the NJDOE and voters were to approve its pending application,” Harrison wrote.

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