MADISON, NJ – The Madison High School Football Team won the state championship and was presented with plaques for each player at the Tuesday, March 28, Board of Education meeting.  “You’ve had a long tradition of excellence,” Board President Lisa Ellis said, recounting her own family’s involvement in football over the years.

Coach Chris Kubik referred to the “time, sweat and pain” and how the team represented the school and community. He also thanked friends, families, faculty and staff for their “unity and unwavering support. You belong to something bigger than yourself,” he told the team. He also thanked the Board of Education, adding, “we’re obviously proud and excited.”

Interim Superintendent Richard Noonan said, “I’m so proud that all of you have risen to the occasion. I hope you’re back next year.” He noted that the Madison team has won five titles in six years.  

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Business Administrator Gary Lane gave an overview of the budget for 2017-2018.  “There’s more to come,” Lane said, before the hearing on April 25.  

Noonan said the budget “must remain flat and preserves the same level of staffing. The elementary schools will have the same number of sections, with some reductions and additions. The tax impact is the same. By no means is this a stand still budget.”   

Lane said the STEM facilities will provide new learning opportunities and the tax impact is less than 2%. He noted the revenues and expenses are independent of each other and that state aid is flat.  The budget creates a banked CAP for use in 2018-19.  Revenues, which include a tax levy for the operating budget,  special ed and other tuitions, state aid, reserves, grants and debt service total $53,895,460. A pie chart shows the percentage breakdown.  Expenses come to the same total and include current expenses, capital outlay, charter school tuition and debt service. Another pie chart demonstrates the breakdown of expenses. The highest portion, at $42,772, 231 include salaries and buildings and grounds.  

High School bleachers will be replaced for $815,000, which Lane said is “a huge project and long overdue.”  Some projects will be carried over to next year, such as the middle and high school STEM project. The tax impact will be a 1.32% increase for the fiscal year, from July to1 to June 30 and 1.68% for the calendar year.  A public forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in the high school media center.  Budget presentation slides will be available on the district’s website.

Sixth grade social studies teacher Stephen Finkelstein asked about the STEM program and questioned whether there were enough teachers for the facility. “There’s only one STEM teacher,” he said. “We used to have professionals in that area,” referring to the broader curriculum.  He was concerned, he said, that there are two guidance counselors for 640 high school students and three physical education teachers for the  high school.  Several board members responded that the STEM   project is covered by teachers in the system and that the planned facility could only hold one teacher at a time. Budget considerations are another constraint in terms of adding more faculty members, one board member said.

A Greenwood Avenue resident brought up the lockdown at Madison Junior School last Thursday because of a drug situation. He said “three kids were taken out and there were armed personnel.” Parents were not informed of the incident until Friday, he said, adding there was “obfuscation and misdirection on a very serious issue.” Superintendent Noonan said the drug policy is on the website and “we take the situation seriously.” There are drug screenings, investigations, consequences and counseling.  He said that the administration didn’t know initially what the situation would be, what happened and what didn’t happen. Board member Debra Coen said she heard two different stories from two students.  “It took until Friday afternoon to get the letter out,” she said.  Noonan said he would follow up with the principal regarding the parent’s letter.  Board member Johanna Habib said the May Board of Education meeting will include a drug and alcohol abuse presentation.