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Board of Ed to Discuss Elections, Ridge Bus Dropoff

Public invited to weigh in on two major issues scheduled to be discussed Monday night.

The public has been asked to provide input on Monday night regarding two major issues before the whether to move annual school elections from April to November, and if school buses loaded with students should continue a new dropoff procedure behind the

A majority of Bernards Township members said. But board members agreed at that night's meeting they would first like to hear from the public at the scheduled Feb. 13 meeting before taking a final vote. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the

"I think it would be fair to give people an opportunity to talk about it," Board Member Elaine Kusel said. She said she views the only negative of the new school election date is that the change could take away the public's right to vote on the annual school budget.

The as outlined in legislation signed in January by Gov. Chris Christie, would allow a school district to forgo putting its proposed budget on a public ballot—as long as the increase on the local tax levy stays within the 2 percent cap.

Board members in favor of the move said the school district is hurt for years to come if the public rejects a school budget, even if it is under a state imposed cap. The April election sometimes falls within the district's school break, and supporters said it often is more difficult to get people to the polls at that time than in November.

While that board members elected in November's general election would need to wait until January to be seated—and losing or retiring members would remain as lame ducks—Board Member Audrey Cohen Sherwyn said she is not bothered by the gap of a few months. "We can use the gap to train people," she said.

Board Member Susan McGowan said she has reservations about taking away the public's right to vote on the school budgets.

McGowan said she would prefer to see the public's right to vote expanded on more public budgets. "I think you would see a lot of meaningful cuts," she said.

Even those board members in favor of the change decided to wait until hearing public input on Monday.

Another change,is the rerouting of Ridge High School buses to drop students off in the traffic circle at the Cedar Hill Elementary School on Peachtree Road. The students then can walk behind the Cedar Hill school, on a paved walkway, to reach the back of the high school.

The new dropoff for the Ridge buses, only in place in the morning, is an attempt to alleviate the traffic backups that occur during morning rush hour every school day at the traffic light at the high school entrance. The driveway into the high school leads from the intersection of South Finley Avenue and Lake Road.

The rerouting of buses began on Feb. 1. Some of the initial complaints came from residents of Homestead Village, who said that the increase of buses on narrow streets leading to the elementary school creates a safety hazard.

The school website said rerouted buses are coming through the South Finley Avenue side of Homestead Village on the way to the Cedar Hill School parking lot between 7 to 7:30 a.m. Cars using the Cedar Hill School parking lot to drop off high school students or children attending morning childcare at Cedar Hill may continue to do so at the front of Cedar Hill School, the website said.

The website previously said a discussion of the trial program will be held at Monday's Board of Education meeting.

Carlsson said the administration, responsible for making the decision to change the bus dropoff, likely will give a presentation on the new route. After that, the board will ask for comments from the public, she said.

Parag Dhagat February 13, 2012 at 02:21 PM
(continuation from earlier comment)... The left fork would skirt the front of the BOE offices, passing the parking spaces there and the Cedar hill School front and its parking spaces as well, serving as pick-up/drop-off for the cars there. The right fork would continue along current bus lanes and serve to bring all the buses (big and mini) to the stop sign, from where the smaller buses would do a loop by the current East-side car pick-up/drop-off, and then meet up with the South-side-new-car route at the South-East corner of the Cedar hill School building, before proceeding back to the stop sign and remerging with the traffic from the right-fork. The right-fork would carry the large buses up to this stop-sign-point and then beyond into the High School gymnasium loop. All the various loops and forks would re-merge at the stop sign and proceed via the reconstructed bike-route (converted into a wide road) to the large bus pick-up/drop-off area behind the Ridge high Basketball gymnasium and then merge with the North-running lanes (coming from the T junction at the back-end of 300 South Finley), right behind 288 South Finley. (continued in next comment)
Parag Dhagat February 13, 2012 at 02:22 PM
(continuation from earlier comment)... The northern-splits at the back end of 300 South Finley would take cars towards the basketball gymnasiums Western corner behind 288 South Finley, merge with the road coming out of the ‘drop-off’ area behind the gymnasium, then the combined (or remerged) lanes curve towards the front entrance of the main high-school building, following already set travel lanes, closest to the building. All vehicles would exit out the current Lake street entrance, making it a one way out only (after the Dhagats have been bought out of 274 South Finley by the Bank at 262 South Finley). The Peachtree Road entry/exit to the Cedar-Hill Elementary School must be permanently closed for regular traffic using iron poles and lockable chains and made available for emergency use only.
Parag Dhagat February 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Opening Town-Hall entrance means paving over the fields for buses to come to PAC for drop off, unless your suggestion is students get dropped off at the court-house and walk even longer distances than they do from cedarhill! The field would be effectively divided. One has already been paved over to make a parking lot! More open space lost to development! One must remember that the rear parking lot is also where students bring their cars in! Now the buses would weave through them!!??....i do not think that is a good idea. Remember that the person/s who take care of our townships security (the police and the chief) are vehemently against it (as per the latest directives from that department). Think about it. Even the township committee and engineers/ planners/ architects have not forwarded or followed through on that idea as a relief over all these years, despite such an idea having been floated ever since 2003ish. Now how or why would one NOT value the chiefs demand to NOT have a Town-Hall-through arrangement? SURE, TAKE THE SCHOOL BUSES AND ALL OTHER SCHOOL GOING VEHICLES OUT OF HOMSTEAD VILLAGE. A good option is to buy properties 300/304/312 South Finley. There have been some missed opportunities in the past to create open space there. We must always collect to-gether and try anew. One must remember that a haphazardly jig-sawed road from the Town Hall, also decreases the appeal of the PAC and future potential to develop it! We spent 40+ MILLION DOLLARS there!
Parag Dhagat February 13, 2012 at 02:58 PM
The buying of these properties must NOT be forced usurping or acquiring using eminant domain. Entice these property holders with great returns. Even if one property can be attained it may create a domino effect. Just one property at 300 through 312 South Finley should do.
Laura February 14, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Maybe I'm missing something, but many people have been driving through Homestead Village to drop off and pick up high school kids for well over the last decade, if not decades, as well as to attend events at the high school fields and to use Cedar Hill's parking lots for concerts, etc. The uproar over 15 minutes of 25 additional vehicles is unwarranted, as is the expenditure of millions of dollars to purchase property or build new roads. Can't the speeding issues be addressed with police presence, and perhaps moving a few bus stops or evaluating whether additional sidewalks are needed? It's not like they dropped these schools there overnight- if you live two blocks from a school, right on the road that leads into it, not surprising that someday more buses will pass by. Unfortunately, you might have to walk your dog 15 minutes earlier or later if you find it unpleasant. Not saying it doesn't negatively impact your quality of life, which is regrettable, but frankly, I don't want to see taxes go up or resources taken away from education to remedy an incrementally small issue inherent to that neighborhood. Same with the traffic on S. Finley- same time every day people, drive around it, leave earlier or later - it is what is is.

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