Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Location: Twin Cities, MN
|Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 12:48 am Post subject: Clark, Garwood reach high school deal
|Clark, Garwood reach high school deal
Pact covers tuition, special education, busing costs for 10 years
Thursday, December 21, 2006
BY CARLY ROTHMAN
Clark Township's Arthur L. Johnson High School will serve Garwood students for at least 10 more years but will no longer have to pay their rising transportation costs, according to a contract unanimously passed by both the Clark and Garwood boards of education Tuesday night.
Under the new contract, Gar wood will pay to bus its high school students to Clark, as well as out-of- district costs for special education students -- costs formerly covered by Clark taxpayers.
Although Garwood schools Superintendent W.J. Murphy could not say precisely what these costs would be, he expects they will "yield a substantial impact on the budget."
"Now Garwood will be paying for Garwood kids," he said. "We reached a fair compromise."
Garwood, which has no high school of its own, has sent an average of about 180 students a year to Clark's high school since 1997, paying a flat rate tuition to the district that totaled about $1.4 million last year.
The number of Garwood stu dents at the Clark high school should stay constant over the next 10 years, but higher fuel prices are raising the cost of transportation, Clark Superintendent Brian Zy chowski explained.
Last year, Zychowski said the cost of transportation and special education for Garwood students alone totaled nearly $400,000 -- a chunk that gets pulled out of Gar wood's annual payment.
"Those are two costs that are spiraling out of control," he said.
Murphy said Garwood's flat rate under the new contract will increase by 4.5 percent for the first five years, 6 percent in the sixth and seventh years and switch to a per pupil rate starting in the eighth year.
"It was such a cheap deal be fore, you almost have to sort of ease them in," said Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso.
Bonaccorso vocally opposed the old contract over the past two years, calling it a financial "disaster" for Clark.
"That was absurd and unheard of, that we would pay somebody's busing to bring them here," he said. "The tax base of Clark is my business. When taxes go up, they don't blame anyone but the mayor."
He praised the new contract, al though he said he has yet to review it in detail.
"It seems to me it's a very, very fair deal for both communities," he said. "It really plugs a lot of the holes that Clark had in its last agreement with Garwood."
He also congratulated his younger brother, board member Michael Bonaccorso, who chaired Clark's negotiating committee.
"(Clark and Garwood) were on the same page," Michael Bonac corso said. "It was very important for both communities to get the deal done."
Garwood schools Superintendent Murphy agreed.
"It's a win-win situation," Mur phy said. "We feel that (Arthur L. Johnson High School) is the best place for our students to be."
Carly Rothman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (908) 302-1504.