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Midland Park

Send-Receive Discussion Ends

11/16/2013 01:48PM ● By Rebecca K. Abma

Midland Park Junior Senior High

 
Officials from Northern Highlands Regional High School cited “misreported events” in an email to Midland Park School officials formally ending discussions on a possible send-receive relationship between the two districts. The email, obtained by Midland Park Press through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, reads in its entirety:
 
From: Keenan, John
Sent: Monday, November 11,2013 2:28 PM
To: Marie Cirasella
Subject: FW: Send/Receieve Contract
 
Dear Dr. Cirasella,
 
We have been following various articles in area publications regarding your districts interest in a send/ receive relationship with Northern Highlands.  While it is unfortunate that certain articles have misreported events, we do appreciate the
direct communication we have with you.
 
As you know, in addition to the overall number of students, there are many issues involved with such a relationship. At this time, our Board of Education has decided that a send / receive relationship with Midland Park is not something we wish to pursue.
 
We wish you the best of luck as you continue with your planning and do not hesitate to call on us if we can be of assistance.
 
Sincerely,
John Keenan
 
Phone calls and emails from Midland Park Press to Keenan were not returned. However, he spoke with Suburban News reporter Lynn Bruggemann, who reported on Nov. 13
 
"It is more than physical space. There are other inter-related factors," said Keenan. "There are other things that are necessary to create a successful relationship."

Highlands Board of Education President Barbara Garand said the finance, facilities, personnel and curriculum committees had discussed developing a send-receive relationship with Midland Park both formally and informally.

"There was a consensus on the committee not to pursue a formal send-receive relationship. It would have increased our student population by 25 percent and is not in the best interest of our students at this time," said Garand.

She said the school building could physically accommodate the student increase but would have affected other areas.

Timeline of the Courtship

Earlier this year, Midland Park School Board President Bill Sullivan and Superintendent Dr. Marie Cirasella, at the urging of parents, met with officials from Northern Highlands Regional to discuss the possibility of a sending Midland Park High School students to the regional school district. 
 
At the Sept. 17 school board meeting, Sullivan stated that he was waiting to hear back from Northern Highlands. Board Trustee Robert Schiffer said Sullivan was being polite, and that Northern Highlands Officials implied “they weren’t sure that they could give our students the same education they give theirs.”
 
On Sept. 23, Midland Park Press delved into more detail on the topic after speaking with more than a dozen past and present Midland Park officials on the history of send-receive in the district. 
 
On Sept. 26, the Suburban News published an article that painted a different portrait of the meeting between the two schools, insisting the regional district would welcome Midland Park students. 
 
At the Oct. 15 Midland Park BOE meeting, Sullivan asked for public opinion regarding the matter, and the stated the board intended to discuss funding a feasibility study at its Nov. 5 meeting with the intention of putting forth a resolution at the Nov. 19 meeting. 
 
Meanwhile, on Oct. 28, the Northern Highlands school board went into closed session to discuss “send-receive,” presumably with Midland Park. The minutes of the closed session have not yet been made public.
 
At its Nov. 5 meeting, Midland Park officials discussed spending $25,000 on a study, however board members were not in favor of moving forward. Primary concerns included losing the close-knit school community and personalized attention a small district has to offer, and a number of intangible qualities that a study couldn’t measure. Additional concerns included finding the funds for a study, what the study will include, and spending the money without a commitment from Northern Highlands to move forward.

The board’s discussion concluded with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Cirasella planning to reach out to Northern Highland Regional High School for a more formal meeting to discuss the matter further before committing to fund a study.
 
On Nov. 11,  Northern Highlands officially ended the discussion with the email, posted above.

 What are your thoughts on the issue? Tell Us In The Comments!
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