Boonton Township School Board Addresses Budget and Negotiations

In a recent Boonton Township School Board meeting, issues such as the 2024-2025 tentative school budget, sending-receiving relationship negotiations with Mountain Lakes, and concerns over the defeat of a referendum were discussed. The tentative budget presentation, led by Mr. Muray, featured an increase in the tax levy by 2%—an additional $291,000—and an almost 8% rise in state aid. The budget planned for technology enhancements, digital renewals, and textbook purchases, impacting the average homeowner with an estimated annual increase of $161.

The board navigated through several sensitive topics, starting with the debate surrounding the district’s negotiations with Mountain Lakes regarding the sending-receiving relationship. Despite rumors and social media speculation, including mentions of Boonton High School as a potential alternative, the board clarified that no discussions had taken place with other districts and that there had been no authorization for such outreach. This clarification was in response to a resident’s concerns about the potential consideration of Boonton High School as an alternative receiving school.

The ongoing matter of the Mount Lake sport ofed petition also surfaced during the meeting. The board addressed a community member’s questions about the petition, which sought to resolve discrepancies between the district’s offerings and the community’s expectations. Budgetary implications and the necessity for a lasting send-receive agreement came to the forefront.

Another pressing matter was the tentative enrollment figures for the next academic year, specifically the situation in the fifth grade with 29 students but only three sections. The board discussed the need to hire an additional teacher to maintain the educational standards set forth in the 2014-2015 commitment to bolster math and language arts instruction. This situation underscored the challenge of managing fluctuating class sizes while ensuring the quality of education.

Updates from several associations and committees were presented, including the New Jersey School Boards Association and the Morris County School Boards Association. The Educational Services Commission of Morris County reported on their search for a new superintendent. Local community events were also highlighted, such as the free COVID-19 vaccine clinic, Earth Day activities, and township-wide garage sales. The Finance Committee reviewed the 2024-2025 tentative budget, emphasizing the management of salaries, healthcare, and out-of-district placements, with a particular commendation for the administration’s efforts to stay within the 2% tax cap.

The meeting proceeded with the adoption of various motions and policies, including Finance motions 1 through 7 and Personnel motions 1 through 5. Policy discussions involved first reads of policies 4121, 4123, 4151, and 5142. Public comments brought up topics ranging from the science of reading and structured literacy to the importance of involving special education parents in space issue discussions.

A significant portion of the discussion was dedicated to the referendum defeat and its implications for state funding and future projects. The board stressed the importance of resolving negotiations with Mountain Lakes before revisiting the referendum. Concerns were raised about the expenditure on a public relations firm for the referendum campaign, the effectiveness of its efforts, and the incomplete roof repair work. The board addressed these issues, along with the question of reserves and funding allocation for capital projects.

In closing, the board tackled the issue of parental involvement in the voting process and the potential impact of the referendum’s defeat on future initiatives. Suggestions from the public included the need for early education and engagement in the referendum process. The meeting concluded with expressions of gratitude to the school staff and administrators involved in the referendum process and a motion to adjourn.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Christian Angelillo
School Board Officials:
Barry Brantner, Christine Cabana, Lauren Bardach, Jeffrey Chen, Leigh Hermey, Christopher Johnson, Grace McBride, Benjamin Mills, Alicja Nowicka

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