A scaled-back school budget for next year was approved at last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting, after voters rejected the Board of Education’s original budget in a vote in April.
First, the school board crafts a budget every year, but if the voters reject the tax portion – as they did last month – it goes to the town’s commissioners for changes and/or cuts.
The voters overwhelmingly rejected the $39.9 million tax levy in the $111.1 million budget on April 20.
The budget was already less than last year’s budget, due to Gov. Christopher Christie’s cuts in state school aid. The district was already expecting to make layoffs and cut certain programs after their $5 million loss in state aid.
“We just fine tuned it. Thankfully we were able to find a few other areas to cut.” – Christopher Pianese
Pianese said the commissioners recommended the school board cut funding on certain budget line items, and suggested they use more of their surplus funds, an additional $591,000, to offset the tax increase.
Programs and teachers eliminated
The world language program in elementary schools and their reading specialist program have been eliminated and 26 teaching positions have been axed, said Pianese.
Somick said that seven teachers have left the district and will not be replaced, and that the school board will be forced to let go of the teachers that once taught the two eliminated programs.
Somick said the two administrators and 11 teachers that have left will be replaced, but at a cost savings for the town, since the combined salaries for the positions will drop from $2.5 million to $750,000.
He said layoff notices to teachers are in the process of being sent out, but that if the district can find a way to bring them back, it will.
“When you step back and realize that the school [board] had $5 million less in state aid than last year, I have to say they did a lot of work prior to us getting our hands on this budget,” said Pianese. “I commend them for really doing a good job prior to even going to voters. We just fine-tuned it. Thankfully we were able to find a few other areas to cut.”
Architects to start designing
Pianese said the township has officially closed on their $2.2 million purchase of a former TD Bank building at 4223-4229 Bergen Turnpike, and now owns it. The commissioners had requested applications from architects to begin designing what will be the township’s municipal court and parking authority. After receiving 23 responses, they chose DMR Architects of Hasbrouck Heights.
DMR Architects will be paid a maximum of 5.5 percent of the ultimate construction costs.
Pianese said he hopes the planning will be done by September, with construction bids coming in by November.
Township eliminating deputy chiefs
As a cost savings measure, the township introduced an ordinance that will eliminate the rank of deputy police chief.
On Jan. 1, 2011 one of the deputy chiefs will be retiring, while another will retire the following January. The township does not plan to rehire for the positions.
Accepted into county Hall of Fame
The commissioners recognized Dennis Taibl, who graduated from North Bergen High School in 1971 and went on to an illustrious athletic career, in a proclamation after he was inducted into the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame.
Taibl was a three-time All County and Group 4 All State football player, All County Basketball player, the first non-transfer North Bergen student to score 1,000 points in his career, and an All State baseball catcher.
He attended Purdue University for football and baseball and now resides in Colorado with his family.
Bus stop moving
The northbound bus stop located at Kennedy Boulevard and 82nd Street will be moved to Kennedy Boulevard between 83rd and 84th Street.
This recommendation came from the North Bergen Parking Authority in the hopes of creating more on-street parking for residents.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.