SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Board of Education approved the part time music teacher at the February meeting.  The board unanimously approved Jodi Halterman to a two/fifths music position, after having tabled the resolution at the January meeting.

Halterman joins the Sparta Middle School patchwork of music instruction that has been assembled after the board chose not to replace retired band teacher Christian Arnold.  Currently three teachers deliver band music theory and lessons, including two who also teach full time at Sparta High School and Alpine Elementary School.

The board approved the reconfiguration of a classroom at the high school to create a bigger space for the STEM and robotics program.  That resolution had also been tabled in January. 

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Board vice president Jack Surdoval had made the motion to table the resolutions at the January meeting, saying they had not gone through the complete committee process.  The personnel committee had made the recommendation to approve the music position and teacher, the curriculum committee had not heard the matter according to Surdoval. 

The board accepted the resignation of Pat Shea, Sparta’s Athletic Director.  Shea has been on a leave of absence since the 2016-2017 school year began and retired as of March 1.  He negotiated pay for six days of accrued vacation and an additional 12.75 vacation days based on his years of service totaling $10,072.02 according to the board resolution.

Steve Stoner has been acting as the interim Athletic Director all year.   

Before giving his report, Business Administrator Anthony Mistretta gave a brief summary of the budget for the 2017-2018 school year.  He began with an overview of the process as well as mandated deadlines. 

One of the highlights from Mistretta is the hiring of five teachers.  Seventeen staff members had been eliminated in the current budget, along with cuts to nearly every budget area.  The district’s auditor Kathryn Mantell and Heidi Wohleb from Nisivoccia, LLP reported at the September board meeting that the district had amassed a $5 million surplus, including more than $1.1 million excess surplus. 

In the creation of the 17-18 budget the board is able to use $437,216 in banked cap, though Mistretta  said direction from the board was not to use the funds in this budget.  Banked cap created when a school district does not increase the tax levy by the statutory two percent. The difference between the levy increase and the full allowable amount becomes cap bank, eligible to be added to a future budget.  If that money is not used, however by the third year, the money is no longer available. 

New Jersey Department of Education requires the tentative budget to be approved to be submitted to the executive county superintendent Dr. Rosalie Lamonte by March 20. Public hearings on the budget can be held between April 24 and May 8. The budget must be adopted by the board of education by May 12. 

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Mohawk Avenue School.