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2 Moriarty-Edgewood elementary schools to close

The Moriarty-Edgewood School District Board of Education voted 3-1 at its meeting Tuesday to close Edgewood and Mountainview elementary schools starting with the 2014-15 school year.

After nearly four hours of talking over the issue of school closures, including numerous pleas from parents and community members, and an attempt by one board member to talk her fellow members out of the decision, the final tally was met with a deadening silence by the more than 100 people in attendance.

“Please don’t think that this was easy,” Superintendent Tom Sullivan said before the vote on his recommendation to close the schools. “This is probably the most difficult decision we all have had to face, as a district and as a community.”

The district found itself in the position to have to close schools because of a looming $1.1 million shortfall for its 2014-15 budget and little hope the situation would get better in the coming years. The direct cause of the district’s money woes is that enrollment has dropped nearly 40 percent since 1999, with the most dramatic drops since 2008. That means the district is getting less money from the state to educate students.

Since 2008, the district has seen a $5 million drop in its state funding. This has resulted in cuts in staffing, furlough days for remaining staff and dipping into the district’s savings account to pay its bills.