WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange Board of Education President Sandra Mordecai released the following statement regarding the budget and staffing cuts:
“The board members have been receiving emails stating how important librarians are in our schools district. We could not agree more. There has been some misinformation that has been shared and we need to clear up the confusion.
“There were no decisions made about staffing cuts, as the board has not met since March 20. The board is obligated to discuss further cuts to the preliminary budget in order to meet the potential $1.3-million short-fall discussed in March, in the event that the West Orange Education Association (WOEA) didn’t accept our offer.
“We are extremely pleased to announce that after discussions with the WOEA, a tentative agreement with the WOEA was reached on Monday, April 17 on health benefits and salary increases only. There are still specific details to be negotiated.
“However, we are extremely optimistic that this process is coming to a close and all parties will be satisfied. If this agreement had not been reached by the May 1 deadline when a final budget must be adopted and then submitted to the county, the board had to prepare alternatives.
“One of the superintendent’s roles in the budget process is to offer options to the board as it relates to programming, staffing, capital expenditures, etc. Working with building principals, department supervisors and the rest of his administrative team, different options were considered and the superintendent submitted final options to the board for their consideration.
“Just to confirm and calm all, please know that due to the notice provision according to Rice, preparations were legally made in order to discuss any staffing changes. Please know that approximately 70 RICE notices were provided to district employees listed on the board agenda so the board members can legally discuss any matter involving those staff members’ employment, if needed.
“This process is followed annually in our school district and in school districts across the state during the budget process and prior to staff reappointments.
“We are again grateful that a tentative agreement has been reached and we can continue to move forward as a district.”