The board of education held a special meeting last week to discuss the defeated school budget. BOE President Nancy Cowles told her board that they had three options. One was to go straight to a contingency budget, which would force the district to cut $3,126,752 from the proposed failed budget of $108,813,333.
The second option was to put the same budget up for a revote. The board quickly rejected this idea because of what they called "the strong message" to cut spending they received from the community on Super Tuesday. However, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoff Gordon did not consider the no-vote, which amounted to 292 more votes than the yes-vote, a "slash and burn" mandate.
Assistant Superintendent for Schools Mary Callahan had worked up two proposed plans to reduce the budget. Plan A decreased the proposed budget by $367,600 and Plan B's reductions amounted to $617,600. Cuts included eliminating fifth-grade after school foreign language program ($15,000) and the elementary lunchtime chess program ($15,000). Both plans called for a $175,000 reduction in teaching staff and a $15,000 decrease in the public relations firm, whose jobs would then go to a volunteer basis. Also included in both plans is a $40,000 cut in transportation-field trips, co-curricular, a cut of five clubs in the elementary schools totaling $72,000 and eliminating sub-JV teams at the high school for a $15,600 savings. Plan B proposes reducing the Manorhaven roof budget by $250,000 (the original cost was $500,000).
However, after much discussion, the consensus of the board of education was to reduce the budget further by an amount of between $750,000 and $1 million. All members acknowledged that the cuts would be "painful," but necessary. Reminding the board about the community's cries of "arrogance" against the board in 1999 when they put up the same budget after it was defeated in the first vote, board member Dean Nardone said, "hopefully we've learned our lesson."
The timetable for the new proposed budget is: June 1, another budget work session; June 7, Tuesday, 8 p.m. adoption of the budget at Weber Middle School; June 14, Tuesday, 8 p.m. public hearing at Schreiber and the budget revote on Tuesday, June 21 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Weber/Flower Hill All-Purpose Room.