On Tuesday evening, a momentous decision was cast at the West Long Branch Board of Education meeting, as the board of education voted by a 7-2 margin in favor of sharing a superintendent and business administrator with Shore Regional High School.
Currently, both the West Long Branch School District and Shore Regional High School have interim superintendents, and since both schools are located in West Long Branch, it was decided that it would make sense to share the position of superintendent between the schools.
A feasibility study published in May, prepared by Nicholas C. Puleio and James H Strimple Jr., found that the sharing of superintendents could save between $142,000 to $152,000 every year due to the reduction of one superintendent position.
Similarly, the study found it was also feasible to share a business administrator between the two schools. Currently West Long Branch employs an interim business administrator, while Shore Regional has their own business administrator who would assume the role of business administrator for both schools.
At the meeting held at Betty McElmon Elementary School, Monmouth County Interim Superintendent Joseph Passiment, Interim Superintendent of Shore Regional High School Renae LaPrete, and Shore Regional High School Business Administrator Dennis Kotch were all in attendance. Kotch would be the person who would become the business administrator for both schools, while LaPrete would serve as interim superintendent for both schools until a full-time replacement is found.
Ron O’Neill, president of the Shore Regional BOE, began the meeting by noting this process began five years ago when they began thinking about the chance of sharing between districts.
“Following the results of the feasibility study, we are ready to share a business administrator and superintendent between districts,” O’Neill said.
Laurie Roberts, president of the West Long Branch Teachers Association, noted the school has had three superintendents in five years, and she was hopeful this would lead to continuity for the school.
“We need an educational vision that will last us many years,” she said.
Passiment then took the time to spoke, noting this was the trend in the state and one he thought would work well locally.
“Right now we are at a crossroads in education, and this is a golden opportunity for sharing services,” he said. “This will lead to the continuity that has been lacking.”
He went on to note that this year, new standards and evaluation procedures will be put into place, and it was the right time to have a single superintendent to lead that vision for both schools.
One board member wanted to know what the turnaround time would be for this to take place, and Passiment said it would be quite quick if it went into place.
Prior to the board vote, members Kerry Kennedy and Mary Gassman expressed concern with the merge, noting they thought it might be best if West Long Branch had their own superintendent and business administrator.
“The district could benefit from having our own superintendent,” Kennedy said.
Other board members argued however that this would greatly help with the education of the students, and that was of the utmost importance to the board members.
Every member but Kennedy and Gassman voted in favor of sharing a superintendent, and every member but Gassman voted in favor of sharing the business administrator, with Kennedy abstaining.