New Jersey has Two Few School Administrators, says sleepy State Auditor

State Auditor Stephen Eells has issued a report that accuses Gov. Christie of failing to appoint the necessary Executive County Superintendents (ECS’s), one for each of New Jersey’s 21 counties, as required by statute. Currently there are only 13 ECS’s, although our neediest districts are managed by Regional Achievement Centers. (Here's coverage and links from NJ Spotlight.)

Yawn. Surely the State Auditor has better things to do with his time than exercise umbrage over trivia.

Back in 2007 Gov. Jon Corzine created the ECS positions and charged them with the mandate to produce plans to consolidate school districts within counties.

From 6A:23A, the bill that created those ECS's:
No later than three years following the effective date of sections 42 to 58 of P.L.2007, c.63 (C.18A:7-11 et al.), (the Executive County Superintendent will) recommend to the commissioner a school district consolidation plan to eliminate all districts, other than county-based districts and other than preschool or kindergarten through grade 12 districts in the county, through the establishment or enlargement of regional school districts.
Well, we all know how that went: a total bust. Somehow, during the development of this part of  6A, no one imagined its implausibility. By law, school mergers require buy-in from all affected districts. What's the likelihood that a board of education would vote "yes," especially if it would lead to an increase in local property taxes,? Who's going to pay for the required feasibility studies and community outreach? And, most importantly, are boards really going to give up local control in a state devoted to home rule?

(Exception to the rule: the new South Hunterdon Regional School District, which merges Lambertville, West Amwell, Stockton and South Hunterdon Regional High School district.)

So now we have an official report from our Rip Van Winkle-ish State Auditor, who summarizes his findings thus:
We found the department’s controls over school district administrative costs to be adequate and financial data to be recorded properly in the department’s accounting systems. We also found the department to be in compliance with applicable laws, rules, and regulations, with the exception of the appointments of executive county superintendents. In making these determinations, we noted opportunities to improve operations with regard to district consolidation and teacher schedules.
So everything is fine, except we haven’t filled eight slots that exist to serve an impossible mission. Somebody’s got too much time on his hands.

Update: Here's some more information from NJ Spotlight re: Comm. Hespe's reaction to the State Auditor's report.

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