Borough Council Confronts Misunderstandings Over School District Jurisdiction

In a recent meeting of the River Edge Borough Council, the body addressed a point of confusion that has emerged among residents related to jurisdiction over local school districts. The council elucidated a key distinction between different types of school districts and their respective governance structures. This clarification came in response to an email inquiry by a concerned resident, highlighting the need for greater transparency and understanding around how these local bodies function.

The special meeting took place on July 17, 2023, with members of the council present to discuss the borough’s business. One of the resolutions under consideration was for the approval of various expenditures, including those for the current fund, capital fund, and recreation trust fund. Yet, it was a public question segment that brought to light an issue of ongoing confusion.

A resident, Carmen Philbin, asked about an email she had sent to the council, which referenced an attachment about school district classifications. In a no-nonsense, straightforward manner, Mayor Papaleo confirmed receipt of the email but deferred a detailed discussion to the Borough Attorney, Mr. Solo.

Mr. Solo explained that the issue stemmed from a misunderstanding about the nature of the borough’s school district. He distinguished between Class 1 and Class 2 school districts, with the former type seeing the mayor and council appointing the school board and controlling the budget, and the latter, which applies to River Edge, electing board members directly and maintaining independent budget control.

Solo said: “We are type 2 school since River Edge BoE is Type 2 school district and we do not appoint them. They are elected directly by the public we have no jurisdiction. And, because we have no jurisdiction, we are not free to do a non-binding referendum.”

The clarification was critical for maintaining community understanding and fostering better dialogue between residents and their local government.

As the meeting concluded, the council moved to approve the day’s resolutions and adjourned.

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