STAFFORD – At the Stafford Township School Board meeting on Monday night, the Stafford Board of Education unanimously voted to withdraw its application for the New Jersey Department of Education’s Preschool Education Expansion Aid (PEEA) for the 2019-2020 school year .
In the 2018-19 school year, the District put the program to work but realized that the overall costs of the program, even wth the 1.2 million potential grant for next year puts the district in a difficult financial situation.
At the March 4 special meeting the Board announced that they will be returning to a tuition-based preschool programming. Stafford Board of Education President Walter Jauch shared that the district would be facing a $1.1 million shortfall due to additional costs required by the govenrment to expand the program. Those costs would need to be taken from the District's general fund. Jauch estimated a total cost of $2.3 million for the program, which would leave a 1.2 million dollar shortfall. Jauch stated that moving money around to keep the program would erode the core program for students in grades K to 6.
The Board of Education scrambled to produce the extra money to complete the program this year. They relied on financial reserves, leaving staff vacancies unfilled, cancelling all professional development opportunities to run the program in 2018-19. The other costs if the program were to be coninued would be the need to hire additional teachers, classroom aides and bus transportation for every student.
The audience appeared a bit disappointed but overall there were no objections from the public during the public session portion of the meeting.
Superintendent George Chidiac is taking an emergency leave of absence from March 1 to April 9. The Board approved Barbara D’Apuzzo to assume the position of acting superintendent while Chidiac is out of the office.