MONROE – A temporary school board committee has “13 meaty” publicly submitted ideas to address overcrowding in two district schools.

The update came from ad hoc committee Chairman Louis Masters at the Aug. 21 Board of Education meeting.

Board members created the ad hoc committee after a failed referendum to build a second middle school and to expand the high school in 2019. A 2018 referendum to build a second middle school also failed.

In the wake of the 2019 referendum defeat, the board also solicited the public to submit proposals to address overcrowding, with the committee being tasked with finding the best plans and making a recommendation to elected officials.

Masters said the committee received more than 30 proposals. The public submissions were whittled down to 13 after some were deemed not possible because of issues such as legality.

“We have 13 proposals. Now, some of them overlap and also from some of the other decline proposals we pulled, we cherry-picked some of the ideas,” Masters said.

He did not provide details about the proposal, but that will come at the September school board meeting.

The ad hoc chairman said the committee will continue to work to refine submissions by continuing to meet and seek expert opinions.

He also addressed concerns about the committee moving too slowly.

“I want to get a good solution, not a fast solution,” Masters said. “I’d rather take a little bit more time. I know there’s been people complaining … but I’d rather vet all of these solutions and not just push them aside.”

The school board has struggled with getting voters to support expanding school facilities to address overcrowding. The failed referendums in 2018 and 2019 resulted in the ad hoc committee's formation. A prime concern for voters has been residential development, which the board does not control.

In the interim, the board is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on temporary classroom trailers to accommodate student population increases.

The next school board meeting is Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. in the high school. Meetings are open to the public.

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Correspondent

Christopher Lang is a freelance correspondent for MonroeNow. Previously he was part of The Record-USA Today Network and served as an editor for a decade at NJMG.

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