MTC Minutes Special Meeting 05-12-10 Print E-mail

Montville Township Committee Special Meeting – Board of Education Budget Review

Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 7:00 p.m.

Montville Township Municipal Building, 195 Changebridge Road, Montville, New Jersey

 

7:00 p.m. – Statement of Open Public Meetings Act Compliance read by Chairman James Sandham, Jr.:  “As required by the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate Notice of this meeting has been provided which Notice specified the time and place of the meeting to the extent known at that time. The Notice was posted on the bulletin board at the Municipal Building, mailed to The Daily Record, The Star Ledger, and The Citizen as well as other newspapers and it was placed on file in the Township Clerk’s office. This meeting has been properly noticed to the public in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.”

 

Roll call Township Committee:

 

Present:          Committeeman Don Kostka

                        Committeewoman Deborah Nielson

                        Committeeman Tim Braden

                        Chairman James Sandham, Jr.

                       

Absent:            Art Daughtry, Committeeman

 

Also present:   Frank Bastone, Township Administrator

Gertrude Atkinson, Township Clerk

 

Present Citizen Committee members:  John LoBasso, Victor Canning, Jeneene Norman, Bernard Lenihan, Robert Lowenfish, Ronald Young, Robert Lefkowitz, Leslie Byron.

 

Board of Education members present:  Jon Alin, Charles Grau, John Morella, Carmela Novi, Michael Palma, Paul Przetak, Jackie Ritschel, Matthew Kayne, Karen Cortellino, President.

 

Also present:  Rita Seipp, Interim Superintendent of Schools

                        James Tevis, School Business Administrator

 

Statement by Karen Cortellino, Board of Education President:  As difficult as this process has been, it has been distinguished so far by civility, mutual respect, and cooperation.  I hope this signals a new working relationship between the Board of Education and the Township.  On Saturday I expressed my confidence that you would do the right thing for the children of Montville.  I got very nervous after hearing the consultant’s report.  I regained hope when it became apparent that the panel recognized that the district could not bear such deep cuts or even near that deep without collapsing.  Montville has good schools because we as a community have decided to pay for good schools.  Our schools drive our property values up.  If our schools falter or appear to falter, our property values will fall.  On Saturday, I recognized that you held in your hands the fate of the district and perhaps the fate of the town.  Please make wise decisions.  Our budget is lean.  We are 0.5% below expenses from last year.  Our per pupil cost is consistently below the state average.  We have eliminated 8 administrators in the past 15 years, yet our schools have grown from about 2,800 pupils to over 4,300.  We have more state mandates, a growing special education population, more regulations, greater state oversight, and one of the lowest state aid contributions to education in the county.  Yet, New Jersey students shine, typically at the top of the list in achievement compared to other states.  The teachers are the foundation for which schools are built.  We all complain that we have had a revolving door of superintendents.  Superintendents burn out fast in Montville.  We have had 3 supers tell us more help is needed.  The budget proposed is a bare-bones budget.  Our budget was within the legal cap.  The township has the obligation to review the budget, but no obligation to cut it.  A 135 vote swing is not a mandate.  Montville is a district that prides itself in its schools.  This is not about the teachers, administrators, parents, politics, taxes – this is about the children of Montville.  They deserve more than what we are giving them now, and to take more away would be a tragedy.

 

James Sandham, Jr., Chairman, thanked everyone for coming out tonight.  There are many opinions on all sides of this issue.  It is about the students, but it is also about our employees and the taxpayers.  We have to be cognizant of all of them.  Tonight we have to deal with specifics.  We must get to a resolution to be voted on Monday night.  We have to submit it by May 19.  I have worked in education.  Class size is most important.  It would personally bother me if we impacted class size.  There is no single correct answer.  What we are trying to get to tonight is the right answer for Montville.

 

 

Dr. Cortellino introduced the next Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Paul Fried.  She reviewed his education and experience. 

 

Dr. Fried thanked the Township Committee for allowing him to speak this evening.  38th year in public education.  Position officially begins on July 1.  I did not create this budget.  I am aware that school districts are made up of people.  When cuts are made, they affect staff.  $3 million of state aid was taken from the district.  Over 30 teachers and administrators lost their positions due to those cuts.  The schools in this community are by far the most important aspect this community has.  The reason people buy homes here is the reputation of the school district.  The BOE members are unselfish, and they really are doing what is best for the children.  I know you as the town council, also have that in mind, because you care about the community.  Although the budget was defeated, that doesn’t mean that cuts have to continue.  I am respectfully asking you to protect the children of the community.  The children are the most important assets that we have.

 

Sandham thanked Dr. Fried and Dr. Cortellino. 

 

Township consultants present:  Paul Cuvo, of Ferraioli, Wielkotz, Cerullo & Cuva, P.A., Accountants and School Auditors.  Kuvo thanked James Tevis for providing all of the information they requested.

 

Review analysis of fund balance (handout to Township Committee).  Numbers obtained from the school audit report.  These balances do not reflect actual results of operations in 2009-10.  $1,236,858 general fund after fiscal school year 2010-11.  This amount is exactly at the 2%, which is what the state allows.  That is the maximum you can have.  There are unexpended funds from the bond sale.  Project not completed.  Capital outlay and capital reserve amounts $2,155.635.  Those amounts are returned after projects are completed.  Been told the projects are not completed.  Have not received money from the State yet on capital projects.

 

Debt service fund – no funds.  Food service fund - $218,000.  MEDLC fund - $476,243.

 

Cuvo reviewed handout – Analysis of variances in budgetary fund balance vs. actual results. 

 

Sandham asked do you have a total for what is available for utilization in this budget?  Cuvo stated available/existing - $1,236,000 general fund.  MEDLC - $476,000.  It is available, but as an auditor, would not recommend utilizing all of it. 

 

Sandham stated while the State has a maximum – do they give you a recommended percentage within there – do they just put a maximum?  Cuvo answered correct.    

 

Ronald Young asked the undesignated 2% - it is not mandated?  Cuvo answered that is the maximum you can have.  Young asked projects completed – only two?  Cuvo answered that is what was told to us by the BOE.

 

James Tevis, School Business Administrator, stated the security system – 7 projects – is actually all one project.  It is broken out by school building.

 

Cortellino stated the fund balance that is being discussed – that is contingency money for emergencies or children who come to the district that may have to be placed out of district, etc. 

 

Young stated his concern is if they are not working on the capital projects, they lose the 40% funding by the state.

 

Sandham stated the question is we kept in this budget, and we will complete in the next fiscal year, the projects where the 40% match is in place?  Tevis answered that is correct.

 

Committeeman Kostka asked what is available?  Cuvo answered he projects the 2009-10 budget is going to generate $600,000 surplus to add to the $1.2 million.  

 

Jeneene Norman stated that was the number they had on Saturday, that they thought they threw out because of timing issues.  That $600,000, according to the school district, is going to be used.

 

Tevis stated the big piece of that is Executive 14 implemented on all school districts - they took $654,000 of our current year fund.  That projection is correct – but we will need it to cover the loss of state aid.

 

Sandham stated I think we will concede that the contingency fund is $1.2 million, which is the 2%.  I understand that is a contingency fund – but we are losing teachers.  I want the panel up here to understand that is our biggest contingency right now. 

 

Cortellino stated we are in a crisis situation, and I would love to have $1.2 million to get the children back.  But, that doesn’t negate the fact that moving forward, beginning in September, we have a school district to run.  Emergencies will come up whether we are in a crisis or not.  As a school board member, I don’t want to see that fund reduced any more than it is.

 

Sandham stated I think everyone on this panel understands that; however, the question is how much of that 2% is actually fully needed.  In my mind, if we cut ½% there and save $300,000 and by doing that save some teachers or something else the public wants, 1.5% instead of 2% – I think that is a good answer.

 

Sandham asked about the $476,000 balance in MEDLC.  Are there any restrictions on that from the BOE’s perspective?  Tevis stated the BOE started charging back those funds last year.  We have to allocate actual expenses.  I can rationalize and justify up to $300,000 in custodial, utility and rent.

 

Bernard Lenihan, BOE member, spoke about the 2009 audit.  Transfer out of $958,000 to the capital fund.  It appears to be that the money was transferred out of the general fund to the capital fund causing an excess of expenses.  Cuvo stated that was transferred out before the excess expenses.

 

Tevis stated it was a legitimate transfer from the capital outlay fund.  The money was budgeted locally.  It had to be moved into the capital projects fund.

 

Sandham asked the Citizen Committee for their recommendations on actionable items.

 

Young stated he would like to cut the funding for teachers who bring their children into the district - $48,000.  Tevis stated it is $12,000.  Sandham stated than that is the number we will use.

 

Robert Lefkowitz stated his recommendation is to look into the busing and treating people fairly.  The busing should sustain itself.  Tevis stated subscription busing net is $400,000.

 

Lefkowitz stated sports – reduce amount of subsidy to $1,000 per sport/activity.  We just got the numbers tonight.  Tevis provided a detailed analysis. 

 

Fried stated some clubs/activities are more expensive than others.  Would caution about cutting sports/extra-curricular activities.  Lefkowitz stated he is not advocating to get rid of them – just make them self-sufficient.

 

Sandham stated we will reword to state we want a reduction of x % and the BOE can do it where they see fit.

 

Lefkowitz stated there are a number of organizations that are allowed to meet in the school that we waive fees for.  Increase the facility use fees.

 

Leslie Byron stated everyone should pay the same rate on subscription busing.  Additional $762,000.  Other actionable items – merge some service oriented clubs – would save money on the advisors.  Tuition reductions.  Full-time courier – do we need?  Traffic safety – can we utilize the Police Department?  Newspaper – printing costs – move to web publishing.

 

Sandham stated the numbers are:  newspaper $12,000.  Crossing guards are less expensive than police officers.  Courier $36,000.  Combine service clubs - $8,000.

 

Sandham asked Mr. Tevis asked about the $60,000 proctor’s budget.  Answer – they supervise lunch duty.

 

Sandham introduced the ad-hoc committee members.  Each Township Committee member selected two citizens to sit on the ad-hoc committee.

 

Robert Lowenfish stated he has taken what Mr. Sandham has done and he will defer to Mr. Lenihan who is well versed in the reserves.

 

Lenihan stated he is a prior BOE president.  Traditional indemnity – no one has it.  It looks like $1.9 million in benefits under the traditional indemnity.  Premium is $400,000.  Subscription busing – should be self-supporting.  You have a reserve in there $371,000.  It gives you a year or two to address the problem.  Director of Curriculum - $130,000.  You said you have no supervisors.  But there are coordinators.  Projected 2010 surplus – ok with the $652,674.  Unreserved undesignated capital project funds – left balance of $1.3 million.  If that amount was subsequently approved, it didn’t come through.  Total - none of that goes to education.  That does not hurt education, but there is nothing structural.  Going forward, it has to be addressed  if the units don’t come back to the table in a meaningful way.  It is unbelievable the units would not go back to the table – they would rather lose teachers.  The units have to come back and be in sync with the town.  Total $2,113,186.  Transfer from the general fund for the subsidy in busing and the Director of Curriculum.  Designate that subscription busing is an enterprise fund.

 

Discussion/explanation/interpretation of $600,000 encumbrances and loss in State aid.  Lenihan stated if he looks at the last three years, he sees a surplus.

 

Charles Grau, BOE member, stated it is nice to throw out millions of dollars, but if they don’t exist, it doesn’t mean anything.

 

Norman stated the teachers and administrators in this district are wonderful.  I do feel; however, that extenuating circumstances this year require all of the constituencies in the district to partner in this effort.  Teachers, administrators, and bargaining units should move to the State Health Plan or freeze salary for coming school year – then I would recommend no further cuts.  If that doesn’t happen – more undesignated surplus be used in the coming school year - $300,000 to $600,000.  Keep between 1% and 1½ % of that figure.  Subscription busing – move to the enterprise fund.  It should be self-sustaining.  I understand you don’t want to increase the fees for that all in one year.  Having the availability of MEDLC surplus – you can gradually deal with the issue of busing.  That takes $372,000 out of the general fund.  Agree with eliminating tuition discount $12,000.  These things don’t affect children curricularly or co-curricularly.  If the Township Committee feels they need to cut more, I would consider a schedule of fees for different activities.  I am not suggesting it be self-sustaining.  Different fees for different activities.  Last thing – if you have to look for more dollars – defer the hiring of the Director of Curriculum $130,000.  Option A is the unions.

 

Sandham asked if they are allowed to commingle the enterprise funds.  Tevis stated in his experience, he has never commingled it.  Consultant agreed.  Discussion enterprise funds.

 

Victor Canning stated his recommended cuts.  Director of Curriculum – because there is no one in that position.  Health benefits – could cut $100,000 to $150,000 and be alright.  Cut $100,000 to $200,000 in fund balance.  In five years, my staff has not received a raise (a town).  Health insurance – look into mail order prescription plans going forward. 

 

Tevis stated he does not agree with the $100,000 to $150,000 cut in health benefits.  They are in worse shape than they thought.  They have considered breakage.

 

John LoBasso stated his recommendations.  Outsource the custodial staff – third shift.  Outsource lawn maintenance and snow removal.

 

Tevis stated the estimated savings for a partial privatization plan for custodians was $456,000.  Basically, outsource the evening.  LoBasso asked if the custodians have made concessions.  Tevis answered no.

 

Kostka stated we have to identify specific cuts in order to come up with a dollar amount.  We present it to the BOE and they say yes or no.  If they say yes, just because we identify something specific, the BOE makes the ultimate decision as to what is cut.  If the BOE does not accept our cuts, then they deal with Brett Schundler.  We will make recommendations, and then the details get worked our later.  With that, I came up with a significant list of potential cuts.  I adopted all of the cuts Mr. Lenihan came up with.  In addition, outsource the night custodial staff $450,000.  One vice-principal at the high school $128,000 plus benefits of $34,282.  Corresponding secretary $38,241, benefits $19,000.  Assistant Superintendent $156,665 plus benefits.  Secretary $43,000, benefits $18,000.  Assistant Business Administrator $73,000, benefits $24,910.  Eliminate 75% of the custodial overtime $90,000.  I did not want to touch the classroom.  One maintenance staff.  Superintendent’s confidential secretary.  I have given the Mayor other items.  The total unadjusted number that I had was $3,282,000.

 

Committeewoman Nielson stated most of the items have been previously mentioned.  The questions I had were just answered by the BOE tonight.  She spoke about enterprise funds and the transportation operations study.  Every student should pay the same amount for busing.  Came up with $70,000 for that.  I generally agree with a lot of the recommendations.  Agree with eliminating the Assistant Superintendent position.  Two guidance counselors - $110,000.  Float three among the five elementary schools.  This is no easy task.  We have had communications from all sides of the spectrum.  Thank you to everyone in our community.  The budget was defeated and legally we have the task to review and make recommendations. 

 

Committeeman Braden stated we were elected to respect people’s votes.  I appreciate the BOE – they have spent a lot of time on their budget.  Subscription busing – will advocate eliminating it.  Cutting a Vice-Principal or a Secretary – we all know it does affect the students.  Hilldale School – cut drainage wall capital project half - $25,000. 

 

Chairman Sandham stated he prepared an extensive list.  I prepared the list that would have minimal educational impact.  Outsource custodial staff.  Eliminated Vice-Principal at Lazar and the high school.  Two secretaries.  Maintenance person.  Eliminate tuition for children of teachers.  Would not make cuts if the unions came forward and made concessions.  Other cuts – reduce courier from full time to part time.  Custodial staff – flex hours.  Coaches – reduce the number by four.  Reduce stipends for club advisors where there is more than one advisor.  Increase subscription busing charge.  Defer Director of Curriculum hiring at least three to four months - $40,000 to $50,000.  Let the new Superintendent evaluate the need for this position.  Total $1,050,000 with $760,000 on the table from the potential employee concessions.  There have been no shortage of attempts by the BOE and the Township Committee to have discussions with the unions.  At this point, there is nothing on the table so we have to move forward.  I recognize there was some educational impact in what I proposed.  I heard other alternates tonight that would not have that educational impact.  Along with the bottom of my list, which totals $290,000, I would propose the following at this point.  Subscription busing $300,000.  Undesignated surplus $309,000.  Tuition $12,000.  Outsource custodial staff $456,000.  Director of Curriculum delay - $40,000.  Health care administrator’s contract $36,000.  Courier, coaching, stipends $100,000.  Total $1,253,000.  I believe we can achieve these things with hardly any educational impact.

 

Grau asked if that was the figure for the reduction, what would the tax savings be on an average home of $332,000?  Sandham answered about $75 per family.

 

Cortellino stated $1.2 million in cuts – there is just no way that is not going to impact the classroom. 

 

Sandham stated his items that will not impact the classroom – busing, surplus, tuition, custodians, health care, reduce courier time, coaches, etc.

 

PUBLIC PORTION:

 

Ralph Avallone, 5 Glen Terrace, Montville, stated let us not forget the budget was defeated by the voters.  Thanked the ad-hoc committee for serving.  The union was asked to pay 1.5% of their salary for health benefits.  The request was turned down.  The Township Committee voted to hire a consultant.  You have a duty to listen to the voters, make these cuts, and I don’t mean 1 or 2%.  At election time, the voters will remember.  Remember, it is for the children.

 

Margaret Gorsky, 19 Margaret Drive, Pine Brook, stated you have been presented a budget to review.  There were already many cuts made.  Recommend finding out more what guidance counselors do.  You don’t have to make these cuts.  I don’t know what your goals are going to be.  Our BOE presented a budget that they feel is the best for Montville.  We do not get to vote on the municipal budget.  Give this BOE a chance to adjust to the blow that they have been dealt.   

 

Lexie Hartley, 3 Lakeview Terrace, Montville, Junior at the High School.  Undesignated surplus.  It is going to affect the math wing at the high school.  It is leaking.  Delaying the hiring of the Director of Curriculum or cutting the Vice-Principal – where am I supposed to go if I have a problem with a teacher or want to do an independent study. 

 

Heidi Calcagno, 26 Crescent Road, Pine Brook, stated no one actually said what the actual busing cost is for the parent who would pay it.  You are asking us to save money in taxes, but then asking us to pay more in busing.  Need a full-time guidance counselor at the elementary level.  You are here to represent the people.  Only 27% of the people voted.  You are representing 266 people who voted no.  Can you consider everyone in this room who don’t want you to make a cut? 

 

Laura Cohen, 7 Valhalla Road, Montville, stated the school budget is the only piece of taxation that is voted on by the people.  All of the staff are necessary for the education of the children.  Township DPW/W&S workers – everyone is necessary for this town and the children.  We moved here from Millburn.  I urge you to do what you are legally able to do.

Robert Cantor, 5 Fletcher Drive, Montville, stated athletics is a very big part of lives.  Wrestling changed my life.  Each and everyone one of my coaches changed me.  Suggestion for a tax cut – turn off the computers in the high school. 

 

Mike Fiorenza, 2 Melissa Court, Montville, stated athletics aren’t the place to cut.  We still need more coaches in wrestling. 

 

Tony Verulo, MTEA President, stated there are legal obstacles to negotiate when you are not in a normal negotiation period.  It is not a matter of the association not willing to go to the table.  We, too, are taxpayers and are aware of the economic situation.  The town council can either make cuts or not make additional cuts.  I hope the town council will choose to not hurt children by making further cuts.

 

Kevin Haugh, 43 Brittany Road, Montville, teacher, stated over the past 25 years I have never had to justify my career or salary to anyone.  Past three weeks - misconceptions out there – we don’t get 4% every year.  We have a salary guide.  There are 17 steps.  It is a pool of money spread out all over the place.  Teachers off in the summer – I have had two part-time jobs.  I do work MEDLC.  MEDLC workers have not received a raise in nine years.  Some words people have used in town – selfish, uncaring, arrogant.  In the past 25 years, I have been attacked by students, strangled, bought birthday cakes for kids, made sure children had coats, tutored kids for free, driven kids home, helped with science fair projects.  Please do not say the word selfish or uncaring, because you have no idea what we do in the classroom or on the outside.  I hope I didn’t come off the wrong way.  Thank you.

 

Amy Minkoff, 149 Konner Avenue, Pine Brook, stated when you make your decision imagine approving a school budget that prioritizes the students of Montville as our future adult residents, business owners, and community leaders.

 

Dana Simon, 49 Washington Court, Towaco, asked if there is a cap on busing.  There are no sidewalks; my son cannot walk to school.  Turnover in administration – are we paying contracts out to previous superintendents and supervisors?  Leaking roof in the high school?  I bet I can be sure the board offices are not leaking - $15,000 per month for a building.  On behalf of our children, there are decisions that can be made better on all of our parts.  I am an educator; no one gets into it for the money. 

 

David Anghel, 12 Constitution Court, Towaco, stated while I support sports and activities, it is much more important to maintain our academic integrity.  I support the mayor and all his decisions of the cuts so far.  As far as the positions, don’t see a reason why these positions are needed.  Find it rude that people bring up Chris Christie – the cuts were made, and it is too late.

 

Kathy Lindert, 38 Underwood Road, Montville, HS PTC President, stated Vice-Principals – you have to consider their job duties.  Secretaries – they do a tremendous amount of work.  Students – you need to keep them active with activities and sports.  It also helps them with their college education.  I know there is anger with the unions, but the only ones we are going to be hurting are the kids.

 

Scott Gallopo, 9 Nelson Lane, Montville, stated some of these cuts definitely have merit.  Support privatizing custodial services, but there is a fear of the safety issue.  We should look into studies of other schools that have done it.  Surplus – confused as to moving it back and forth.  The cuts range from $3.2 million to $25,000.  Sandham stated we will go through all the cuts and vote on them. 

 

Gallopo stated I am in agreement with everyone on the dais that none of this should cut into education.  That includes the extra-curricular activities.  There may be a tax cut, but may be hitting people with fees.

 

Kim Deemer, math teacher at the high school, stated I would ask that if you do make cuts, you look at what those people actually do.  Our school is known for being a very competitive school.  Extra-curricular activities and clubs help students get into good colleges. 

 

Colleen Soliman, 4 Marts Lane, Pine Brook, Junior at the high school, stated in order to be a teacher you have to have the calling.  You cannot cut the custodians.  Support activities and sports.

 

Alan Glucksman, 76 Taylortown Road, Montville, stated teachers are the most essential part to an education.  Have to do the best in a bad situation.  Favor keeping teachers over positions that may not be as necessary.  

 

Marianne McGuire, 10 Sylvan Drive, Pine Brook, stated subscription busing - $750 a child – most parents will say no.  All of the parents driving their kids – Lazar – it just won’t work.  Can there be a co-pay for sports? 

 

Gary Buchler, 10 Berlin Lane, Towaco, stated subscription busing – for the last four years, I have been hearing about the issues of dropping kids off at Cedar Hill School.  It will be worse if you charge more.  Make the budget more efficient for all of the voters.

 

Steve Giudice, 77 Boonton Avenue, Montville, stated I don’t support any cuts, but if you have to come to a number, please don’t go below the 4%. 

 

Kara Fano, 6 Nathan Drive, Towaco, Senior in High School, stated every single teacher I have had has impacted me.  Every child has the ability to learn, and it is the teachers who bring that out.

 

Chairman Sandham closed the public portion. 

 

Cortellino stated there are a series of recommendations that are based on assumptions (breakage or that people will subscribe), yet you came up with a number.  I head a lot of back and forth between the panel, the auditors, and the Business Administrator, but when you come up with a number and those assumptions don’t come through, we have to live with that number.  The stake here is children and the education.  The children of the future deserve to have what your children had when they went through the system.  130 vote swing does not make a mandate.  The BOE is emotional about the budget.  It is not only numbers; it is people, programs, curriculum development, and children.  I am pleading with you to consider what you are doing.  You don’t have to made any cuts.

 

Sandham stated there are four Township Committee members up here.  We will take an intelligent approach.  We have been cooperatively working with the BOE.  I believe that spirit of cooperation will continue tonight.

 

Grau stated I had four children go through the school system.  People move here because of the school system.  We could have delivered a budget with 10%.  It came out to a 4.6% increase.  Cuts - what are we saving - $50 to $60 per home?  Elimination of subscription busing – you will have a nightmare.  It is your responsibility because safety lies with the town.  With subscription busing we alleviate that.  We have had heard eight citizens’ ideas tonight.  This is their ideas.  You have the opportunity to listen to the public tonight.  I hope you keep an open mind and reconsider some cuts.  You now have an opportunity to take what Christie has done with the loss of $3 million plus to leave the budget where it is or make an insignificant cut to allow us to continue with programs.  Everything affects the classrooms.

 

Michael Palma, BOE member, stated if you want to cut the surplus, I can support that if you will make up the difference if something goes wrong.  It is absolutely irresponsible to not have a contingency fund.  Busing – against raising.  Have already cut 66 people and extra-curricular activities.  The only mandate you have is to examine the budget and do what is best for the school system.  You job is to do what is best for the community.

 

Jon Alin, BOE member, stated we lost all of our State aid.  Our high school is judged every year.  It has to do with the number of courses, etc.  Our administrative cost is half of the State average.  You are talking about cutting administrators.  These things really do impact education.  I will quote Kathy Lindert – remember the children.

 

Fried stated I think that hearing from the students, parents, and teachers tonight makes me really sure this is a community I want to be in.  Our parents really are very involved.  I look forward to working with the town council as well.  I know you will give this a great deal of consideration. 

 

Sandham stated I have a list of the items proposed and Mr. Kosta’s list.  I do have to address the BOE.  We have been trying to be nothing but cooperative with you.  I didn’t hear one person from the BOE just now speak to anything specific of the cuts other than busing.  Honestly, to some of you, I don’t appreciate the antagonistic approach because I am going to try to do what I have been charged to do.  This Township Committee has been trying to be very cooperative.  We are going to do what we think is right.

 

Nielson stated I would like to start with the easiest points of agreement on the list:

 

Outsource custodians - $456,000 – evening.  All in agreement. 

 

Custodial overtime - $30,000 – cross item off.  Still will incur overtime.  Consensus.

 

Undesignated surplus - $325,000.  Consensus.

 

Tuition – teachers’ children - $12,000.  All in agreement.

 

Busing - $60,000.  Consensus.

 

Administrator’s contract – healthcare - $36,000.  All in agreement.

 

Courier – part-time - $20,000.  All in agreement.

 

Coaches - $25,000.  All in agreement.

 

Stipends club advisors - $25,000.  Consensus.

 

Director of Curriculum $130,000 total.  Fried stated delaying the hiring will not yield us candidates of quality.  I would ask you to consider how important these individuals are to the most important aspect of education – teacher effectiveness.  I will hold the administrators responsible for teacher effectiveness.  Consensus on cut – no.

 

Increase fees for participation in clubs - $8,000.  Consensus – no. 

 

Two guidance counselors - $110,000.  Consensus – no.

 

Drainage wall at Hilldale – $25,000 cut.  Braden stated a quote exists for less than half.  It is an emergent issue.  $25,000 cut – Consensus.

 

Kostka list:  Part-time secretaries at elementary schools and in special services - $171,450.  Consensus – no.

 

Assistant Superintendent.  Consensus – no.

 

Business Administrator’s Assistant - $97,000.  Tevis described what she does.  Consensus – no.

 

Nielson asked there is a surplus in MEDLC, but we can’t touch it?  Sandham stated correct, can only charge for actual expenses.

 

Sandham stated we have a list of cuts that adds to $984,000.  He asked if there is anything in this list we would want to reinstate for educational purposes or that was previously cut in the BOE budget.  My proposal would be to take off 20% to make it an approximate $800,000 cut and let the BOE reinstate $180,000 cuts that have an educational impact.  Hire back staff, etc.  It would be up to the BOE.  Braden agreed as long as they do everything possible to make that happen. 

 

Cortellino stated it has been the position of the BOE all the while that any money given back will be put back in the classroom.

 

Sandham asked the Township Committee for a vote.

 

Nielson – comfortable with the $984,000 recommendation.  The biggest issue was the health care issue.  If that works out, it will add back another $1 million plus to this budget.  I am confident that can be worked out over the next few months.

 

Braden – comfortable with the $800,000.

 

Kostka – no change - $984,000.

 

Sandham stated he is comfortable with the $800,000 but since it is a tie vote, it fails.  So it is back to the $984,000 of proposed cuts.  Sandham took another poll - Township Committee all agrees to the $984,000 except for Kostka.

 

Sandham stated they will draft the formal resolution for the meeting of Monday, May 17, at 7 p.m. 

 

Cortellino stated there has been a tremendous spirit of cooperation over the past few days, and I hope that continues through the year.  But, I am disappointed.  I really hoped the cuts would not be as severe.  I think that $984,000 does cut into the education of the children, but I guess we will live with it. 

 

Sandham stated I hope you will recognize that the two single biggest items – custodial and undesignated surplus which add up to $781,000 of the $984,000.  So absent those two items, there are really only $200,000 worth of cuts.

 

Meeting adjourned at 11:25 p.m.  Motion:  Braden.  Second:  Nielson.  All in favor except Daughtry - absent.  Motion approved.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

                                                           

Gertrude H. Atkinson, Township Clerk

 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 March 2011 )
 
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