MADISON, NJ - The first cut of the School Board budget was the main subject of the March 3, 2020 Madison Board of Education meeting.
The meeting focused on a “preliminary” budget which as it now stands, lends to a $1.8 million deficit as they enter the new fiscal year. The Administrators appeared to be wrestling with how to cut costs and raise “revenues” as they develop the 2020-2021 budget. They repeatedly emphasized how hard they were working on the challenge set before them yet echoed that they had confidence that they would be up to the task at hand. Their primary focus, according to multiple board members' comments, was that they always have Madison’s students foremost in their strategic planning.
Teachers Assistants crowded the room. They repeatedly stated that they were very worried that their jobs were are at risk. Many teachers assistants went up to the podium to express their concerns, during the public commentary portion of the agenda.
Madison has a significant number of special needs students and the Teachers Assistants have developed a deep involvement and strong emotional attachment to the kids. Much of the commentary included tears and voices afflicted with great emotion. Their concern about the potential jeopardy of their jobs was voiced loudly.
Many parents also took to the podium to speak about their concerns for their children that require special attention.
Salaries and benefits for teachers and staff comprise 76% of the annual school budget. The Superintendent stated that this portion of the school budget can not be controlled.
The board is struggling to figure out how to close the budget gap without having to issue debt, cut staff and/or eliminate programs.
The next meeting will be March 17, 2020. It will be a regular meeting including the preliminary budget adoption.