May 1, 2014 at 12:58 AM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Board of Education approved the 2014-2015 budget of $125,184,960, inclusive of the previously approved debt service of $5,917,806, and the state and federal revenue of $15,105,901. There will be a budget increase of 1.23 percent, raising taxes on a home with an assessed value of $339,624 by 2.4 percent ($180.94).
The board utilized a banked cap to increase the budget over the 2 percent cap established by Gov. Christie. A banked cap is allowed when the previous budgets come in under the 2 percent cap, although there is an "expiration date" to use it.
The approval followed a presentation by Interim Superintendent James O'Neill, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Donna Rando, Fil Santiago, Director of Technology and Staff Development, Robert Csigi, Director of Buildings and Grounds, and Mark Kenney, Board Secretary during Monday's Board of Education meeting.
"It is the board’s charge to present a prudent budget while avoiding cuts to the classroom and ensuring we continue to provide a quality education,” O'Neill said. "The school board continues to be challenged by unfunded mandates, rising costs of utilities, maintenance of facilities and increases in tuition for out-of-district placements.”
O'Neill raised a comparison between West Orange and Hoboken, which is still classified as an Abbott School District, although changing demographics and gentrification of that municipality has resulted in a current median income of $140,780 and a median home price of $491,250. Hoboken still receives $10.1 million in Abbott District funding for approximately 3,100 students. West Orange, with over 7,000 students, has a median income of approximately $90,000 and a median home price of $339,624, and receives $7 million.
Highlights of the presentation included the following points:
State mandated and unfunded implementation of the upcoming PARCC testing (all online) has created the need to invest in chrome books; increase school bandwidth and wireless upgrades; and provide additional training.
The implementation of the new Marzano Teacher Evaluation System has created the need increase the need for supervisors to manage the evaluation process. West Orange has approximately 750 teachers that now require three classroom observations and written evaluations per year.
Teachers are paying more into their benefits, but negotiated salary increases will take effect.
Capital outlay projects to maintain the 11 public schools are approximated at $1,681,251.00.
Go to the West Orange Board of Education website at www.woboe.org, to view the budget under "Featured News - WOBOE Budget Resources".
Check local listings to view the videotaped meeting on TV 36/45 beginning on Friday at 11 am and 8 pm and Saturday at 12 pm and 8 pm.