Franklin to discuss school consolidation

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FRANKLIN — The Newton Township Council recently passed a resolution in favor of consolidating the county's schools into one system, but the Franklin Council is planning to look deeper into the issue coming out for or against the plan.

A discussion on the merits and pitfalls of consolidation is expected to be held at the borough's next Council meeting. It comes at the request of Councilwoman Dawn Fantasia, who raised the issue Monday night when a notice of the Newton resolution came up on the consent agenda.

According to Fantasia, Newton's resolution came up as an impromptu item and was passed without an examination of past research on the efficacy of consolidated school systems. Fantasia said she's hoping Franklin will consider the issue more carefully before making a decision.

“There's a lot to think about and I know sometimes it can be a catchphrase from politicians to say a consolidation of the whole region, the whole county would save the taxpayers money, but that might not necessarily be the case,” Fantasia said. “I would not spend a penny of our Franklin Borough taxpayers' money until we actually look into the research that's already there for us.”

Following the passage of the county ordinance, Fantasia reported she looked into the matter and discovered examples in Illinois and Pennsylvania where attempts to consolidate fell flat. Additionally, Fantasia noted the Center for American Progress released a study in 2013 that closely examined the benefits and downsides to consolidation.

In particular, Fantasia said she sees problems with logistics, building economies of scale, and housing. She also observed some towns would see no benefit under a consolidated system, pointing out Green residents would actually see their taxes increase if they joined such a district.

Mayor Nicholas Giordano commented at the meeting that he's in favor of consolidation “in a lot of ways,” but acknowledged that “there are pitfalls” that warrant discussion.

Giordano indicated the issue would be added as a discussion item on the next meeting agenda.
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