SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ -  The South Orange Maplewood School Board is holding a Community Forum tonight, Monday, March 7, at 7 p.m. in the District Meeting Room (525 Academy Street) in Maplewood to discuss the preliminary budget for 2016-2017.

The full agenda for tonight's meeting is here, and includes a presentation of the 2016-2017 preliminary budget at 7:35 p.m., followed by hearing of individuals and delegations at 7:55 p.m., and then a discussion of the budget at 8:20 p.m, before there is another opportunity for individuals and delegations to speak. The meeting is scheduled to adjourn at 9 p.m.

There was a special Budget Workshop meeting of the School Board on Wednesday March 2, when a preliminary budget for the 2016-2017 school year was discussed, which included several cuts to current programs and staff. The full budget can be viewed here. The Strategic Directions: 2016-2017 Preliminary Budget presentation from March 2 is available here, some areas of interest include:

  • The State of New Jersey mandates a 2% cap on the amount that tax levies can increase, while projected school district expenses are rising at more than 2% annually.
  • Almost all (approx. 94%) of the South Orange Maplewood School District's budget comes from local taxes.
  • Student enrollment continues to increase each year, with an increase of 65 students in the past year.
  • Salaries make up a little over 50% of the total operating budget.
  • Personnel reductions of 19 full-time employees are planned, including a "net reduction of approximately 10 classroom teachers" and nine supervisors and other staff.
  • Proposed supervisor and other positions that would be eliminated include ELA Supervisor (K-8), Math Supervisor (9-12), Middle School Library Media Specialist, High School Guidance Counselor, High School Dean, and two high school support staff employees in the Dean's office.
  • Proposed classroom teacher cuts include two middle school teachers and nine high school teachers.
  • Proposed net staff reductions would be:fourteen full-time positions at the high school, two positions at the district level, two positions at the middle schools, and one position at the elementary schools.
  • A few positions are proposed to be added in the 2016-2017 school year, including a behavioral specialist at the middle school level and a special education teacher and a classroom teacher at the elementary school level.

According to the South Orange Maplewood School District website, no action will be taken at tonight's meeting. Next steps in the budget process are a Board of Education meeting on March 21 to consider/adopt the 2016-2017 preliminary budget to send to the Essex County Superintendent; March 22 is the last date to submit a 2016-2017 budget to Essex County.