A message from Marie S. Bilik, Executive Director, New Jersey School Boards Association.
The concept of shared services is a familiar one for New Jersey’s local boards of education.
In the early 1980s, the New Jersey School Boards Association joined with the state League of Municipalities to produce a report called "The Art of the Possible." The publication listed shared services between school districts and municipalities.
In 1995, NJSBA completed another study illustrating a wide array of shared services in New Jersey's school districts, producing tax savings, freeing limited funds for the classroom, and improving services.
In 2001, the state's Regional Efficiency Aid Program recognized 677 shared service arrangements among school districts and local governments. Over half of the programs involved school districts.
However, several consecutive years of stagnant state aid, limited financial resources and the prospect of a new school funding system make it imperative that school districts focus even more strongly on shared services.
Because of these factors, part of the New Jersey School Boards Association's Long Range Plan goal in the area of school finance specifically addresses the concept of shared services. The plan calls for the Association to: First, explore local school district efficiencies through shared services Second, showcase best practices, and Third, monitor progress and report on efforts that have resulted in cost savings and tax relief.
NJSBA identified this research project as the vehicle to accomplish these goals.
We are proud to introduce the report, "Shared Services in School Districts: Policies, Practices and Recommendations," which was produced by the Rutgers-Newark Institute for Education Law and Policy. The study focuses on shared services in four New Jersey counties, but also includes a critical analysis of state policy on shared services and its impacts, as well as a catalogue of best practices.
Our intention is for this report and its list of best practices to become a major resource for local school districts in New Jersey.
The concept of shared services is nothing new, but the interest and need among school districts continues to grow.