As Board Approves $55.8 Million Budget, Woodcliff Lake Seeks to Withdraw From District

By Kyle Hammalian

Photo by Wikipedia.

Photo by Wikipedia.

A New Jersey Appellate court heard arguments from attorneys representing Hillsdale and River Vale on April 5 regarding a petition from the Borough of Woodcliff Lake to withdraw from the Pascack Valley Regional High School District and instead participate in a send-receive relationship with the district, meaning students will continue to attend Pascack Hills, but the way borough residents pay for the education will be different.

Woodcliff Lake argues that there is no constitutional burden on the district if they allow a referendum to be held so residents of the four towns can decide if Woodcliff Lake should be permitted to leave PVRHSD.

Woodcliff Lake hopes to create a send-receive relationship with the district so that when the borough sends students, it would pay tuition per pupil rather than based on assessed property value. In other words, Woodcliff Lake students will continue to be sent to Pascack Hills, but the town will be paying less, or what it sees as its fair share.

Attorneys from River Vale and Hillsdale argue that it is the statewide norm for towns to pay based on property value, and that the referendum is misleading because Woodcliff Lake students would continue to attend the district’s schools.

The issue has been brewing for years, and a feasibility study conducted by Woodcliff Lake in 2013 indicated that the town pays $3.5 million more than other towns, which the borough deems to be more than its fair share.

This appeal came weeks after Pascack Valley Regional Board approved a preliminary budget of $55.8 million, a 1.1 percent increase from the previous year. It’s expected that 1.8% more of the budget will come from taxes than the previous year, but the exact figures on tax increase for property owners has not been released yet.

In addition to last year’s $2.9 million dollar spending for the new athletic fields, an additional $2 million will go towards turf fields and music room renovations.

In the end, the three appellate court judges have yet to rule on the matter, and the budget is awaiting approval from the county executive superintendent.