WESTFIELD, NJ - With a public hearing vote for the district’s budget set for Tuesday March 27, district salaries and special services were discussed last night at the Board of Education meeting.  

The board announced its proposed 2012-2013 budget will be $70,576,193, which will be a $467,996 increase from its current $70,078,197 budget. More importantly, the proposed budget amount represents 74 percent of the total budget. It will be voted on Tuesday and sent to the county for its approval.  

During the presentation by Business Administrator Vincent Yaniro, he acknowledged almost all of the full time employees in the district will receive health benefits, but this will be the second year where teachers will be required to contribute 1.5 percent of their salary to those benefits. Yaniro also said the district was able to spend less on health benefits due to the current contract negotiations

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Yaniro also spoke about special services and its proposed budget. The current special services budget is $20,856, 367, while the newly proposed one for next school year is $21,617,248. There is an increase of $760,881 and the proposed budget is 22.7 percent of the total budget. However, a great deal of the funding for special services comes from state aid, Yaniro said. The total amount of money received from the state was $5,158,325.

The district has seven school psychologists, five learning consultants, five social workers, 11 speech teachers, one teacher of the deaf, two occupational therapists, one physical therapist and one adaptive physical education teacher. There are a total of 1,191 students in Westfield who are classified as special needs, which is 18.8 percent of the student body population. According to Yaniro this is average for a district in a socio economic status like Westfield.

However, in the midst of the financial figures and preparing for the budget vote, the board said the number one issue is the repairing the roofs on the schools. They agreed the decision to fix the roofs should be put on a bond issue. After thoroughly reviewing district architect George Duthie’s presentation from two weeks ago, everyone agreed it is imperative to fix the shoddy and decrepit roofs. Board member Gretchen Ohlig urged her fellow members to remember that fixing the roofs should be their first priority.

“We are in a position to preserve flexibility if we want to,” Board Present Richard Mattesssich said.

The renovation of the junior varsity baseball field at Edison High school was also discussed. The proposed plan will change the field to half Astroturf and half grass. While some people were not in favor of this, it was not heavily debated.