Report: Splitting Pascack Valley District 'Would Succeed'
A report prepared on behalf of Woodcliff Lake about their proposal to leave the Pascack Valley Regional High School district found different conclusions than the report prepared for Hillsdale and River Vale.
Splitting the Pascack Valley Regional High School District would create only "some minor difficulties" for maintaining the current quality of education, according to a report prepared on behalf of Woodcliff Lake.
Montvale and Woodcliff Lake petitoned the Executive County Superintendent last year to allow them to withdraw from the district last year because they pay a higher rate per student than Hillsdale and River Vale.
The Woodcliff Lake study examined six possible actions, including:
- Woodcliff Lake withdraws, enters agreement to send their students to PVRHSD;
- Both Woodcliff Lake and Montvale withdraw, Montvale makes a PK-12 district and Woodcliff Lake sends students to PHHS;
- Both withdraw, form new regional PK-12 district;
- Dissolve regional district, Montvale and Hillsdale both make PK-12 districts and Woodcliff Lake and River Vale send students;
- Dissolve regional district, Montvale and Woodcliff Lake form PK-12 regional district, Hillsdale and River Vale form PK-12 regional district;
- Dissolve regional district, form four-town regional PK-12 district.
The report found that education could be affected for Woodcliff Lake students if they withdraw alone because the regional district has not made any agreement to accept them as a sending district. Any other change would "have very little educational program impact" because the students would remain in the same schools, the report stated.
A report prepared for Hillsdale and River Vale on the same issue found that maintaining many of the courses and extra curriculars would be difficult and costly because many of these programs are only financially viable when shared between two schools.
In any of the proposed scenarios, Woodcliff Lake residents would save between $2.3 million and $3.6 million in taxes, according to their report. If they alone withdraw, residents of the three other towns would lose money. If both Woodcliff Lake and Montvale withdraw, or the regional district is dissolved, both towns' residents would save money.
Hillsdale property owners stand to pay an additional $1.1 million to $2.6 million total in taxes each year if any of the options are passed.
"The results are not surprising considering that Woodcliff Lake has been subsidizing the other communities under the current formula," the report stated.
The Hillsdale-River Vale report found similar costs passed onto their taxpayers — more than $500 each year for the average homeowner in both towns — but were less sure about potential savings for the other towns.
Savings would amount to less than $20 each year for the average homeowner in Woodcliff Lake and Montvale, according to the first report. A large portion of the tax levy from those towns come from commercial properties.
The funding issue comes a from a state law passed more in 1975. When the Pascack Valley district was formed in the '50s, the four towns agreed to pay on a per-student basis. The state law requires all regional districts to determine their tax levy allocation based on property values in each town.
Robert Gilmartin, the former Executive County Superintendent, previously told Patch that regional districts do sometimes dissolve over financial disputes related to the tax levy.
It may take some time before a decision is made for Pascack Valley Regional. Both reports have been submitted to the Executive County Superintendent, who will make a recommendation for the state Department of Education's commissioner.
The commissioner and a board of review will then make a decision on whether or not the withdrawal could happen. If they decide it could, residents of the four towns will vote on a referendum to decide whether or not to dissolve the district.