Henry Hudson Tri-District
Henry Hudson Tri-District

HIGHLANDS, NJ (March 25, 2022) – In May of 2021, the Henry Hudson Regional School District, in collaboration with the Highlands Elementary and Atlantic Highlands Elementary School Districts, was awarded a $65,000 Local Efficiency Achievement Program Grant (LEAP grant) from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The purpose of this grant is to fully investigate the possibility of consolidating the three districts to form a new, all-purpose K-12 school district and to analyze the feasibility of any additional configuration with other districts in the geographic area. “The Tri-District already is an outstanding exemplar of the implementation of shared services amongst small, independent districts,” said Dr. Tara Beams, Tri-District Superintendent of Schools. “This funding and the newly signed legislation (NJ S3488) allow the three districts to truly investigate the potential for further cost-savings and financial incentives, but, more importantly, greater alignment of curricula, programming and the expansion of educational opportunities for our students that may be limited by the current structure of the three, independent districts.”

The LEAP study reviews five key areas – Legal/Contract, Demographics, Facilities, Education Efficiencies & Enhancements, and Educational Finance. The Board of Educations’ (BOE) study will analyze two possible models. First, the study will analyze the feasibility of the consolidation of the three existing school districts into an all-purpose, K-12, regional school district. Second, the study will investigate thepossibility of adding other districts or students which would involve an enlargement of the regional district. Most notably, the study will investigate the feasibility of adding students from Sea Bright, whose students currently are enrolled in the Oceanport and Shore Regional High School Districts. The school districts expect the study to be completed in May of 2022, well before the grant deadline of September 2023.

The new legislation, NJ S3488, was just signed into law on January 18, 2022. To better understand and accurately apply the provisions and potential financial incentives outlined in the new law, the three schools have been working closely with Mark Magyar, the Director of Rowan University’s Steve Sweeney Center for Public Policy, who helped to craft this legislation. On March 8th, Dr. Tara Beams, Tri-District Board leadership, as well as elected and appointed leaders from Atlantic Highlands, Highlands, and Sea Bright met with NJ Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Director Magyar to ensure that the process allinterested parties were taking was in line with the provisions of the legislation and would lead to the best possible outcome for all students, families and taxpayers. Both Senator O’Scanlon and Director Magyar insisted that it is in the best interest of the communities for BOEs and their respective municipalities to collaborate regarding the feasibility of regionalization so that a collective goal can be met.

Once the study is completed, the BOEs will make public recommendations regarding whether the districts should move forward with regionalization and will provide some preliminary details on how the new K-12 district may be shaped. As stated by Mark Heter, Henry Hudson Regional BOE President, “We believe it is critically important to wait for the LEAP study to be completed to ensure that we fully understand the recommendations of the experts regarding whether and in what form regionalization might best meet the needs of our communities.” Community members are welcome and encouraged to attend our respective school board meetings where updates on regionalization have and will continue to be shared on a regular basis. In addition, any questions or concerns about regionalization or the LEAP grant should be directed to the Tri-District Superintendent, Dr. Tara Beams, who is best suited to answer questions at this time.

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