MILLBURN, NJ - Talk of the budget dominated Monday night's meeting of the Millburn Board of Education. Board President Michael Birnberg warned that although the focus of the previous meeting was on revenues, at this meeting Superintendent James Crisfield and the School Board would be looking at the expense side. According to Mr. Birnberg, the Board is facing “tough decisions when it comes to finance.”
A variety of possible changes are needed to fill an anticipated budget gap of as much as $7,870,017 (assuming a 0% tax increase.) The most controversial of the possible changes are the reduction of six K-5 specialist teachers, cutting three K-5 classroom teachers due to a decline in enrollment, eliminating World Language in elementary school, cutting one team (five teachers) from the Middle School, eliminating courtesy busing and offering subscription busing instead, and reducing Kindergarten from full day to half day. None of these cuts have been made, but all are “on the table.” The Board is calling for community input and ideas between now and March.
Adjustments in teacher salary and health benefits are subject to collective bargaining, which will commence mid-February. The Board will have to estimate numbers based on past increases in order to present the budget in March, making all decisions regarding cuts extremely difficult.
In other matters, Special Services Director Juliana Kusz explained the District’s choice to separate the Preschool by moving one set of classrooms from South Mountain to Deerfield School. The move, intended to relieve overcrowding at South Mountain School, surprised and distressed Deerfield parents, who complained of their own lack of classroom space.
The Board will be present for the yearly Open Forum, which will be held at the Millburn Library on Sunday, January 30 from 2:30-4:30pm. At this time residents can ask questions of the Board on issues of the budget and beyond, in what is always a less formal setting than traditional BOE meetings.
View Budget Cut Sheet here.