MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Board of Education reached a balanced budget for the 2016-2017 school year.. Dr. Christine Burton gave a presentation outlining the board’s priorities, such as maintaining student excellence and enhancing 21st century learning skills for Millburn Township students.

The newly balanced budget includes the addition of staff in all of the seven schools and the pre-school. Burton made it clear that the budget, in addition to staff and other resources, valued efficiency as a method in maintaining a balanced budget.

“One of the things we looked at is the way we are using staff that we currently have on board that this child psychologist could help to address. So we have looked at our staff and said we are not going to use our staff that we currently have, but we will use our child psychologist.” said Burton.

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In addition to more personnel, Burton highlighted the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards in grades 6-12. Next Generation Science Standards help students comprehend core knowledge and ideas, allow students to engage in scientific practices and they also prepare students for deeper levels of scientific investigation later in their educational studies. However, the most prevalent highlight in her presentation was technology.

Burton underscored the advancements in the Millburn School District’s technology. Millburn High School recently launched the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Initiative. With the launch, the high school requires all students to connect to the BYOD network, allowing student content to be filtered on school grounds. However, the board was forced to scale back on some technology in an effort to balance the budget.

The Board of Education also collaborated and volunteered their ideas on the referendum discussion. The January 11, 2016 state-approved referendum was built upon by the board, with possible debt service aid eligibility considered. Greg Somjen, the district’s architect, led the discussion.  A good deal of time was dedicated to debating air conditioning requirements in elementary schools.

After a long discussion, contemplating the different cooling possibilities for the schools, the BOE decided to add to the state’s approved $470,000 for elementary school window air conditioning, bringing the total cost to $1,382,400 for cooling all the township’s elementary schools.

Although the board plans on spending more than originally approved by the state of New Jersey, the less expensive route was actually taken because the $1.38 million will cool all five of the elementary schools. Some citizens supported the installation of central air into each elementary school, which would have costed north of $13 million.