Although the school district election on April 23 has four candidates running unopposed for four Board of Education seats, voters still get to approve or reject the district’s $24 million 2014-2015 budget. The budget shows a moderate increase of $1 million over the 2013-2014 budget.
Of the $24 million total, about $18 million will raised from Weehawken taxpayers. State aid accounts for almost $3 million.
The Weehawken school district serves student from Pre-K to 12th grade. The district has seen a rise in student population over the last several years from 1,280 in 2012 to 1,314 in 2013. The school estimates the district will see another increase in the upcoming year to about 1,359.
The annual cost per student rose from $13,185 in the 2011-2012 school year to $14,127 in 2013-2014, but school officials estimate a slight decrease in per student cost for the upcoming year to about $13,587.
The district saw a drop in tuition as revenue from $99,343 in 2012-2013 to an estimated $81,000 for the upcoming school year. The budget also anticipates a drop in federal aid from about $806,000 last year to about $685,000 in the upcoming year, marking two years decline from federal sources.
Ordinarily held on Tuesday, the election has been moved this year to Wednesday to accommodate the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The candidates, running unopposed
The race for the Weehawken Board of Education features four candidates for four seats.
John Cannata and Mark Denfeld are seeking reelection for three year terms.
Noel Berto-Sanchez is running to replace Alma Martir, a board member who is not seeking reelection, for a three year term. Julian Brian Mera, a Weehawken police detective, is seeking to fill the unexpired two year term of Pat Sullivan, who passed away late last year.
Lacking conflict, the election has featured no significant issues, and no major capital improvement projects.
Mera was born and raised in Weehawken, and currently has a daughter in the Weehawken Middle School. He was appointed to replace Sullivan after her death last year, but must run in a special election to fill the remaining two years of Sullivan’s term.
‘We assume that they have no opposition because we are doing so well as an educational system.’ – Mayor Richard Turner
Cannata is running for his second term and has four children, two in the school system and two infants. He has a career in engineering and design.
Denfeld is running for his third term. He has two children in Weehawken High School, and works as representative for a health insurance company.
“We assume that they have no opposition because we are doing so well as an educational system,” said Mayor Richard Turner.
The Weehawken district has been rated within the top three percent of all school districts in the nation by a recent U.S. World New and Report rating. The district has also been rated as one of the top in the state by other groups.
“We are known for our good schools,” Turner said. “Our sports teams have won state tournaments. Our marching band won the national tournament last year. We have a lot of innovation going on. People move to Weehawken for the schools, and stay here to keep their kids in the school district.”
Turner said the school board and Township Council work closely to make sure funding is in place to maintain the school district.
“We support each other. We share facilities and work together,” Turner said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.