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Board of Education of Township of Bernards v. Board of Education of Borough of Bernardsville

Decided: May 24, 1950.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE TOWNSHIP OF BERNARDS, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BOROUGH OF BERNARDSVILLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the State Board of Education.

Colie, Jayne and Eastwood. The opinion of the court was delivered by Colie, J.A.D.

Colie

[8 NJSuper Page 125] This appeal involves the apportionment of bonded indebtedness between the Township of Bernards and

the Borough of Bernardsville, hereinafter respectively referred to as Township and Borough.

Prior to October 30, 1947, the Township and the Borough comprised a single school district. On that date, the Borough held an election under R.S. 18:5-3 and a majority vote favored the separation of the Borough from the then existing school district. After the election, the schools in the former district comprising both the Township and the Borough were, in accordance with R.S. 18:5-4, operated by the Township until July 1, 1948. The Bernardsville High School is located in the Borough and there was outstanding $114,000 of bonded indebtedness on it. The Borough admits that under R.S. 18:5-6 it was obligated to assume the entire indebtedness on that building. The Basking Ridge School is located in the Township and on it there is a bonded indebtedness of $64,000. The proportion of ratables in the original school district was 40.59495% for the Township and 59.40505% for the Borough. In anticipation of $5,000 par value of bonds on the Basking Ridge School, maturing on December 1, 1948, the Board of Education of the Township billed the Board of Education of the Borough in the amount of $3,445.49, being the latter's proportion of the said $5,000 based on the percentage of ratables in the Borough. The Borough refused to honor the bill and thereafter the Township paid and filed a petition with the Commissioner of Education seeking a determination of the controversy and an order directing the Borough to pay the aforesaid amount with interest. The Commissioner of Education held against the Borough and on appeal, the State Board of Education affirmed. This appeal is from the latter determination.

There is no dispute but that the bonded indebtedness on the high school located in the Borough amounted to $114,000 and that the bonded indebtedness on the Basking Ridge School located in the Township amounted to $64,000, and consequently the bonded indebtedness on the whole original district comprising both the Township and the Borough was $178,000. Statutory authority for charging the entire bonded indebtedness

on the high school against the Borough is to be found in R.S. 18:5-6:

"The board of education of a new school district shall become vested, in its corporate capacity, with the title to all school property real and personal in the district.

"Any indebtedness incurred for the erection, repair or purchase of any such property, for which the board of education of the school district to which such property originally belonged is liable, shall be assumed by and become the obligation of the board of education of the new district. Upon payment of such indebtedness by the district originally liable therefor, the board of education thereof may maintain an action therefor against the board of education of the new district."

The decision of the Commissioner, affirmed by the State Board, apportioned the bonded indebtedness against the Borough at $152,019.23 and with this apportionment the Borough feels aggrieved.

The situation is controlled by statute and if the apportionment is to be sustained, it can only be done by virtue of statutory authority. Board of Education of West Paterson v. Board of ...


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