Mountainside became independent from Westfield in 1895, over a century after Westfield separated from Elizabethtown in 1794. Many residents of the area we now know as Mountainside felt that they received little to no benefits from the taxes they paid to the Village of Westfield, so on July 16th, 1895, a resolution of independence was drafted. Sixty people, more than half the residents of the proposed Borough of Mountainside, signed the petition for independence and thus Mountainside ceded from Westfield.
In 1908, Mountainside bought Borough Hall on Route 22, where council meetings were held starting on January 1st, 1910. The hall was used for government offices, civic meetings, and patriotic organizations. After stints in Echobrook School and Beechwood School, council meetings are now again held in Borough Hall. The borough’s government has grown since its inception, and now consists of a mayor, elected every four years, and six Borough Council members, elected for staggered three year terms. Both the mayor and council are elected-at-large. This form of local NJ government was enacted by the state in 1950.
· Singer in band Velvet Chain and actress Erika Amato
· Director of Sherrybaby Laurie Collyer
· Member of the New York Genovese crime family Angelo DeCarlo
· Cartoonist for Collier’s Weekly Harry Devlin
· Actress on Monk Bitty Schram
· Conditioning Coordinator for the Chicago White Sox and former professional wrestler Dale Torborg
· MLB player and manager Jeff Torborg
· TV entertainer and beauty pageant winner Hela Yungst
In 1904, when the Board of Education finally separated from Westfield, Mountainside was the official possessor of one red brick schoolhouse, called the Mountainside Grammar School, with two classrooms, two smaller rooms, two teachers with a combined salary of $1,000, an estimated budget of $1,163, and 50 students. The Mountainside Grammar School was remodeled in 1924, and two classrooms, two lavatories and a furnace were added at the cost of $33,000. But it took two attempts in 1930 before voters approved the purchase of one and a half acre.s of land adjoining the old schoolhouse. It took an additional five years, a PWA grant from Washington and three attempts before Mountainside taxpayers approved the $87,273 to build the new school adjacent to the red brick schoolhouse. These two buildings, at the juncture of Route 22 and New Providence Road, are now known as the Echobrook School. Within a few years a storeroom and the old play space in the basement became a lunch room and two additional classrooms, respectively. By 1945 Echobrook School had twelve rooms: nine regular classrooms, two manual arts rooms for boys and girls, one library, and a combination auditorium and gymnasium. There was also a medical room, and a remedial reading room in the old building; a principal’s office, a Board of Education room, and a teachers’ room in the new building. The school budget was $49,047, teachers’ salaries were $32,529, and 170 children attended classes. Twenty-two acres were purchased on Central Avenue in 1950 at $1,000 per acre, and the voters approved $350,000 for a one-story building with eight classrooms lor 250 pupils. There was also a multi-purpose room, kitchen, teachers’ room, principal’s office, and library space in the front entrance hall. A new architectural feature was that each classroom had an outer door leading to the play area. This was the simple beginning of Deerfield School. With three additions in 1957, 1963, and 1968, and two portable classrooms, it is now a large complex with a separate elementary school for grades K-5 and a middle school for grades 6, 7 and 8. Today, at least 700 children stream in and out of its many entrances and exits.
Students who choose public high school attend Governor Livingston High School (GLHS) for grades 9-12. Governor Livingston High School, located in Berkeley Heights, educates about 1000 students with a student-teacher ratio of 11.6:1. Students who attend Governor Livingston have the opportunity to explore many different courses of study, including Advanced Placement courses for college credit and five different foreign languages. A recent survey ranked GLHS in the top 40 secondary schools in New Jersey. The school also hosts an extensive Deaf and Hard of Hearing program for Union County students. Governor Livingston is known around the county and the state for impressive athletics, especially for track and field. Additionally, the school’s marching band, the Governor Livingston Highlander Band, has won thirteen Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Championships. Notable alumni of the school include Peter Sagal ’83, playwright and host of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and Jill Santoriello ’83, playwright and composer of the music A Tale of Two Cities. Mountainside students also have the choice to attend the Union County Vocational Technical Schools and study specialized programs in allied health sciences, information technology, performing arts, engineering, automotive technology, building trades, public safety, culinary arts and cosmetology.