School board panel will work with town to identify shared services

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In an effort for the Metuchen School District Board of Education, the Metuchen Borough Council and the borough administration to work more efficiently together, board President Justin Manley has announced the formation of a Municipal Sharing Committee.

Manley appointed board member Jonathan Lifton to chair the committee during a meeting that was held on Jan. 22.

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“[Lifton] will work with Mayor [Jonathan] Busch and members of the Borough Council to really figure out ways in which we, the Board of Education, the Borough Council and the administration can work together and seek ways to be more efficient and do things better,” Manley said.

Committee members will look for potential reduced costs through shared services.

“We recognize both entities (the school district and the borough) draw from the public, the same tax dollars,” Manley said. “We want to make sure we are doing the best job we can to be as efficient as we can.”

Manley said Lifton’s previous experience as the board’s president gives him the ability to provide insight as the board recruits appointees for the Municipal Sharing Committee and moves forward.

In his 2019 Mayor’s Address on Jan. 1, Busch said municipal officials are focused on continuing to help Metuchen become as economically efficient as possible, including engaging in shared service agreements with other public entities such as the school board.

“The Borough is always looking for ways to save money and operate as efficiently as possible,” Busch said. “After a series of conversations with some members of the Board of Education and its administrators, there appear to be a number of ways we might be able to help one another, leading to potential savings for both entities and lessening the burden on our taxpayers.”

School Business Administrator Michael Harvier said the school district and borough share playing fields and facilities, and the school maintenance department and the borough’s public work department share expertise, material, equipment, and work together on projects when applicable.

Harvier said the school district purchases vehicle gasoline and diesel fuel and salt through the borough to take advantage of their purchasing power, and the borough provides trash and recycling pickup to all schools.

Also, both groups are looking for more shared service arrangements in the future in order to reduce costs and improve operations, Harvier said.

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