Hunterdon Central School Board Approves Superintendent Search Contract

The Hunterdon Central School Board has unanimously approved a contract for superintendent search services with the HYA Corporation, not to exceed $31,250, as Dr. Jeffrey Moore prepares to depart from his role. This decision is among several topics addressed during the recent school board meeting, which also included discussions on budget proposals, declining enrollment, staff vacancies, and the transition to a new healthcare plan.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to the superintendent search process, conducted by Dr. Monica Brown from HYA. The search aims to find a suitable successor to Dr. Moore, who was commended for his service, especially his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Brown outlined the search, which includes engagement, recruitment, selection, and transition phases, and emphasized HYA’s national reach and local knowledge. The board was informed about the strategies to attract a diverse candidate pool, particularly since the lifting of caps in New Jersey has increased the number of regional and statewide candidates.

Simultaneously, the meeting addressed the proposed budget, emphasizing fiscal responsibility and the notable achievement of proposing a budget below the state’s 2% cap on property tax increase for the second consecutive year. The board also noted a decline in tax rates for many residents for the third year in a row. The budget reflects the school’s mission statement, focusing on educational innovation and personalized programs, and aligns with the strategic plan and shared decision-making.

The board discussed the financial challenges the district faces, including the increase in utility costs, insurance, and transportation, along with the decrease in state aid over the past seven years. There was also a conversation about the complexities of the state funding formula and the impact of factors such as property values and declining enrollment on the district’s funding.

A critical financial concern raised was the transition to a new healthcare plan, which, while less costly than the legacy plan, featured lower employee contributions, resulting in a substantial loss for the district. The board also highlighted the district’s transition to the state health insurance fund, which has led to significant savings. Nevertheless, there were concerns about the projected rate increases for the upcoming year.

The board discussed the district’s budget and revenue sources, with taxpayers funding 76.7% of the budget. The impact of declining enrollment was particularly noted in relation to special education out-of-district placements. Moreover, the board discussed the funding of planned capital projects, including those eligible for up to 40% reimbursement from the state, and the use of capital reserve funds for future projects, such as facility improvements.

One of the more discussions was the approval of a budget for the summer of 2025, which included grants for various projects and a tax levy increase of 1.75%. These funds will be put into bank cap for future district use. The board provided a comprehensive explanation of the tax rate calculation and expressed pride in their success in controlling taxes.

The board also took the time to discuss student life and programming, including the funding of coaching positions for girls’ flag football through grant money and the approval of various professional development activities. The Personnel Committee presented several items, including the appointment of an interim superintendent, retirements, and appointments.

A debate emerged regarding the first reading of an amendment to the nepotism policy. Some members voiced concerns about the process and the need for input from board counsel and the administration. Consequently, a motion was made to table the first reading of the policies.

In the public comments section, community members expressed gratitude for Dr. Moore’s contributions to the district. Lisa Hughes, a former board member, and Wendy Berer, a parent, praised his efforts in making the school a better place for students. Additionally, concerns were raised about diversity and inclusion in lesson plans and the mental health needs of transgender students.

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.
Dr. Jeffrey Moore
School Board Officials:
Caine Fowler, Sue Duggan, Lori Blutfield, Sandra Gong, Dorothea Kellogg, Noelle O’Donnell, Rebecca Petersen, Jerry Rymar, Lisa Santangelo, Heather Spitzer (Business Administrator/Board Secretary)

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