WESTFIELD, NJ — The school board is anticipated to approve the district’s tentative budget on Tuesday, an introduction that will come amid both the specter of layoffs and word of a 16.92% boost in state aid.
Last week, the state Department of Education announced that Westfield will receive a $724,434 increase in state aid bringing total state aid to the district to $5,005,708. What that increase means for the district officials would not say this week beyond an indication that the school business administrator would brief the Board of Education next week.
“[Dana] Sullivan intends to discuss state aid at the next Board meeting on March 10, so we have no comment at this time,” said Mary Ann McGann, the school district’s communications coordinator. School officials declined to answer detailed questions on how the new aid figures will impact local public schools.
The new aid figure amounts to $324,434 more in state funding than the $400,000 the school district in a budget presentation last month had estimated the state would increase its funding by.
While the overall increase in aid amounts to $724,434, portions of those monies must be spent in specific areas. The state figures show Westfield schools are anticipated to get $575,681 in transportation aid, $3,992,194 in special education categorical aid and $437,833 in security aid, according to the state Department of Education.
Prior to the school aid figures’ release, Sullivan indicated the need in this year’s budget for a $340,837 reduction in staff costs, along with reductions in transportation, technology, utilities and special education costs. The staff reductions may include layoffs, Sullivan told the school board at its last meeting during which she indicated the district would have to plug a $1.06 million gap between anticipated revenues and expenditures. She said the staff cuts would not be “drastic.”
This week, school board President Peggy Oster declined to answer specific questions pertaining to the newly released aid figures and budget.
“The administration is working on finalizing the budget after receiving final figures from the state,” Oster said. “The board will discuss any adjustments at our next Board meeting on March 10.”
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