CALDWELL, NJ — During Monday night’s Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education meeting, Superintendent James Heinegg reported that the upcoming November ballot questions were in the process of being drafted.
The first ballot question would seek voter approval to fund a full-day kindergarten. If approved, $600,000 would be utilized during Year 1 for renovations to five existing classrooms and in Year 2 the monies would offset the additional staffing needed.
The second ballot question, if approved, would provide an additional $250,000 that would be utilized to enhance security measures across the district with the intent of hiring two School Resource Officers (SRO) and facility upgrades. Caldwell and West Caldwell would each contribute $75,000 toward the salary cost of one officer being stationed in the high school and the other in the middle school full-time. The remaining $100,000 would be directed towards facility security upgrades.
Heinegg stated that during July, a draft of the ballot questions would be available on the district website for review, and during the board meeting on Aug. 20 the language for the ballot questions would be finalized by the board. Once approved, there will be a series of informational meetings to be held in September and October with the stakeholders.
It was noted that in 2014, the New Jersey School Board Association presented their Security Task Force Report that provided detailed explanations as to why SROs are the preferred model for school safety enhancement. Although the SROs will be assigned to the middle and high school, Heinegg referenced the ongoing assistance from the police departments that is a constant as the departments offer guidance and input that is inclusive of support at the elementary schools.
Additionally, Heinegg updated the public that the board was able to confirm the guidance counselor at Wilson Elementary School will remain full-time. There had been a tentative plan to cut the hours due to a grant that had been partially funding the salaries and was ending.
The savings were achieved by manipulating the budget to provide cost savings in other line items in order to redirect funds to maintain the 35-hour-a-week employee. At the last board meeting, parents stated their concern about a potential cut in hours to the guidance counselor and the impact they feared it would have on the students.
The board unanimously ratified the agreement with the Caldwell-West Caldwell Education Association effective July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. The board also accepted the resignation of Assistant Superintendent Scott Kelpesch, effective July 31. Board of eduction president Marie Lanfrank stated she “accepted the resignation with regret.”
During the finance portion of the agenda, a total of $598,055 for the upcoming fiscal year for IDEA funds for both basic and preschool needs was unanimously accepted.