In a recent Elmwood Park School Board meeting, the board responded to criticisms surrounding their financial transparency and decision-making, with one member stressing, “we’re not hiding anything, we’re very transparent in what was going on.” Superintendent Anthony Lachetti also provided an update on district preparations for the upcoming school year, addressing transportation challenges and thanking numerous individuals for their summer efforts.
Controversy arose surrounding social media claims of the board’s lack of transparency regarding “$15 million dollars worth of taxpayers money.” The board responded firmly, explaining that the funds were allocated for capital reserves, meant primarily for large construction projects. They emphasized the need for critics to understand accounting processes before making allegations.
The board expressed frustration over critics opting for online commentary instead of attending board meetings. However, what was not mentioned, is that the school board typically does not respond to feedback it receives during board meetings. In fact, it’s not clear what an ‘appropriate’ forum would be for two-way dialogue.
The board emphasized the work and training that goes into being a board member. One member remarked, “we do a lot of training… to be a certified board member… for somebody to think that we take this so-called job lackadaisical, we don’t take it very seriously.” The board encouraged critics to attend meetings in person and ask questions rather than resorting to social media commentary.
Several board members, including Doug DeMatteo, reiterated their dedication to serving the students and the broader community. They discussed the district’s financial growth and expressed optimism about its future. They also highlighted the 2% budget cap and their efforts to meet both staff and student needs.
The board also addressed concerns about potential overcrowding in the district’s elementary schools, given the rise in one-bedroom constructions.
In other news, Dr. Lachetti discussed the shortage of bus drivers that affected certain routes this year. However, he was optimistic about the preparations in place for the new school year, highlighting summer programs and district-wide improvements such as painting, tree removal, and concrete work.
As the district anticipates an influx of students due to local construction projects, Dr. Lachetti took a moment to appreciate the hard work of teams in preparing the district. He specifically thanked Mr. Jacobus, Mr. McCreski, the EPEA, Miss Brown, the curriculum department, and several principals for their efforts. He also lauded board members for their ongoing commitment to the district. Among the achievements highlighted were the introduction of the Pre-K initiative.
The board concluded by announcing the upcoming Community Day on September 9th at Borough fields and a music event scheduled for that evening. They also expressed hopes for better communication between the PTO and the board in the future. The meeting wrapped up with unanimous agreement to close.