Splitting the Pascack Valley Regional High School District could have unintended consequences affecting the quality of education at local schools, according to the Hillsdale Mayor Max Arnowitz and River Vale Mayor Joseph Blundo.
Officials in Woodcliff Lake and Montvale voted to withdraw from the district earlier this year and Executive County Superintendent Robert Gilmartin met with local municipal and school officials last week to discuss the process. Arnowitz and Blundo said in a press release they would fight the withdrawal because the split could hurt the quality of education at the two high schools in the district.
"The initial research conducted by River Vale and Hillsdale suggests that the potential damage to the academic reputation of this district is too high of a risk for River Vale and Hillsdale to bear to stand aside and let this happen," Arnowitz said in the release. "We are committed to fighting as long as it takes on this issue."
Currently, the district has two high schools: Pascack Valley for Hillsdale and River Vale students and Pascack Hills for Montvale and Woodcliff Lake students.
A plan from a 2009 feasibility study suggests that Monvtale could take Pascack Hills High School to their K-8 district and Woodcliff Lake could continue sending students there as a way for the towns to save money. The study reported a change in the way regional school districts are funded "has forced Montvale and Woodcliff Lake to subsidize the education of the high school students from Hillsdale and River Vale."
Before the withdrawal process can proceed, Gilmartin has required the three-year-old study to be updated with more recent data. Hillsdale and River Vale are also having a feasibility study done to examine the issue.
"The potential tax savings that they claim to result from this application is minimal and short-term," Blundo said. "To continue to pursue this issue is irresponsible, especially if it could result in the potential loss of any educational programs that are presently being provided to our children in this regional district.”
Once the studies are complete, Gilmartin will use them to create a report for the commissioner of the state Department of Education. If the state approves the withdrawal, voters in the four towns will decide the issue.
Arnowitz and Blundo said in their release that preparing the study may take some time, noting that they "would be provided ample opportunity to respond."
"This issue will not be resolved in the near future," the mayors said.