MONTCLAIR, NJ – A Montclair High School female wrestler was honored, the announcement
was made regarding the MHS graduation site, and discussion about school budget cuts took
place during a public meeting hosted by Montclair Board of Education on Wednesday evening
at the George Inness Annex Atrium on Park Street.
Presiding over the meeting were Superintendent Kendra Johnson, Board President Laura
Hertzog, Vice President Joseph Kavesh, Business Administrator and Board Secretary Emidio
D’Andrea, Jessica de Koninck, Latifah Jannah, Eve Robinson, Priscilla Church and Anne Mernin.
A special presentation was made to senior wrestler Jaala Williams, who competed for the 136-
pound title at the inaugural NJSIAA Girls Wrestling Championship last weekend at Boardwalk
Hall in Atlantic City. Williams earned a second-place finish at the historic tournament.
“Jaala is the first female wrestler in Montclair’s history to place at the state level,” said
Superintendent Johnson. “We are so very proud of our silver medal winner. She is a champion
who placed second in the inaugural NJSIAA Girls Wrestling Championship. Jaala is featured in
an article on our district website.”
Superintendent Johnson continued with her report, stating that Montclair Public Schools has
just exited state review for the lease-restrictive environment.
“I would like to give accommodations to our special education team, as well as our general
educators,” Johnson said. “We have reviewed our lease-restrictive environment and we met
the state standards in that regard.”
Regarding the Montclair High School graduation venues, Johnson spoke about the tradition
within the township.
“We’ve looked at our surveys, and we would like to declare that we will continue the tradition
of having the graduation at the high school in the amphitheater, and we will look to have a rain
date at Codey Arena (in West Orange) if needed,” Johnson explained. “Additional information
will be sent to (MHS) seniors and their families.”
Johnson also announced that the school district will continue to have a robust and ongoing
“We have found a resolution and we are pleased that Montclair High School, as well as our
middle schools and elementary school programs, will remain intact and we are going to
continue the dance programs moving forward,” said Johnson.
On Monday, March 11, the board will present the final budget of $129,999,204 for the 2019-
2020 school year. The preliminary budget was introduced at the previous public board meeting
on February 19 when D’Andrea presented a high-level overview. Once the state aide allocation
is received, the administrative recommendations will be reviewed and presented at this
The board is still $2,227,541 over budget with their preliminary estimates, and they will be
making decisions in the upcoming days on how to balance the budget for next school year.
“It’s important that I highlight as it pertains to our reduction of 10 paraprofessionals that all of
our IEP’s drive each individual each student need,” Johnson said. “The IEP teams met prior to
the budget season and determined that we wanted to embrace a gradual release and have
some of our students, 10 students in this instance through the IEP process, move from a 1:1
paraprofessional to a shared paraprofessional. We would never unilaterally change students’
During the public comment portion of the meeting, several CPAC members, including
leadership committee member Kathy Malloy, addressed the board regarding the staff and 1:1
“My concern is that our current paras and shared paras are overloaded,” said Malloy. “What
happens when we cut 1:1 paras are that our shared paras take on more.”
Following this coming Monday’s final budget presentation meeting, the next Montclair Board of
Education public meeting is Monday, March 18 in the George Inness Annex Atrium. The
meeting begins at 5:30 pm and immediately goes into closed session until approximately 7:30
pm when it re-opens to the public.