BLOOMFIELD, NJ – Hours after the township declared a State of Emergency due to a Coronavirus outbreak within the community, the Bloomfield Board of Education hosted their special Budget Meeting late Wednesday afternoon in an empty Bloomfield High School Library Media Center.

But that didn’t stop the board, as the proposed $119,690,326 budget was unanimously adopted.

It was announced Monday that the meeting would be moved from the School Administration Building across the street to BHS Media Center, which is more spacious, so the limited 25-member audience could be seated at least six feet apart.

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That changed midday on Wednesday, as no members of the public were in attendance.  A livestream of the proceedings was broadcast on the WBMA-TV website.

It was important that the meeting proceed as planned, to ensure proper funding for next school year.

“We want to forward to this budget to the county for their approval,” said Bloomfield Schools Superintendent Sal Goncalves.  “The board of education begins work on the budget the day after the county accepts the previous years’ budget.”  

There will be an increase in personal, increased programming, improvement to facilities, enhancement of technology and additional security enhancements.

“The tentative budget brings us to a total of $119 million,” Goncalves said.  “On May 5, we will hold the public hearing on the 2020-21 school budget.  Hopefully, the situation in our environment changes by then so we can have a meeting with the public.”

Assistant Superintendent Joseph Fleres presented detailed information regarding new curriculum in the social studies, science and technology programs.

“Enhancements will be made to the districts’ award-winning fine and performing arts programs,” Fleres stated.

Musical instruments will be replaced at Bloomfield Middle School, and the auditorium will replace the current sounds and lighting system.

A new Baby Grand Piano will be purchased for Bloomfield High School.

“This board has worked very hard in the creation of this budget and we make sure that every penny is spent wisely,” Goncalves added.

New equipment will include maintenance vehicles, custodial equipment and school buses.

“Our administrative team, from the last time we passed the budget until now, has made sure the money is used in the best way possible for our kids,” said Board President Jill Fischman.  “We are head and shoulders above surrounding districts in regard to our budget situation.”

During her President’s Report, Fischman addressed the Coronavirus epidemic that’s been affecting the world and wreaking havoc with the day-to-day operation of the school district.

“We are sending you good and healthy thoughts during this difficult time not only to the Bengal students and Bloomfield community, but also to the state and the nation,” Fischman explained.  “We are following all the information we are getting from state and federal officials.  The quicker we follow those guidelines, hopefully, the quicker this will pass.”

Beginning Monday, the entire district went to all virtual learning.  There is a staggered schedule of teachers and staff in the schools to keep most of the personal at home as much as possible.

“I want to thank all our teachers, principals and administrators for the work they are doing, in this new world of being victual teachers,” said Fischman.  “There aren’t enough ‘thank you’s’ to thank you for what you are all doing.  Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and are not underappreciated.”

Food service remains available for breakfast and lunch for eligible students at five different schools.

“I also want to thank our custodial staff, as they have gone a little bit unnoticed,” Fischman said.  “They are doing a great job in sanitizing and wiping everything down in our schools.”

The next Bloomfield Board of Education Public Meeting takes place Tuesday, March 24 at the School Administration Building with a closed executive session at 6:30 pm followed by the open public meeting at 7:30 pm.