Little Ferry School Board Discusses New School Construction and Financial Planning Amid Concerns

The Little Ferry School Board meeting on February 15, 2024, centered around the district’s financial health, facility upgrades, and the potential construction of a new school. The board’s conversation also included the discovery of a 110-year-old time capsule, the recognition of outstanding students, and a discussion on the use of modular classrooms for revenue generation. Community involvement was encouraged through upcoming events, and responses were provided to public concerns regarding the cost and scope of the new school project.

A major focus of the meeting was on the financial standing of the district, with an auditor’s report indicating a fund balance of approximately $7.5 million. The board discussed the implications of the fund balance, considering future budget planning and the possibility of using unspent funds as revenue for the subsequent year’s budget. Auditor Andrew highlighted four recommendations, including the need for board resolutions regarding Federal grant programs and a review of transported resident students’ reports.

The board secretary, Mr. Gomez, provided a report on facilities and finance, detailing ongoing projects such as facility upgrades and security measures. He informed the board of the completion of the basketball court project and plans for a thermal scan of the school’s roof, an important step considering the installation of solar panels. On financial matters, Gomez updated the board on the January financial close, preparations for the audit, and corrective actions taken in response to audit recommendations. Additionally, Gomez addressed the state inspection of transportation and the Food Service reimbursement, which amounted to $33,150 for January.

The board also discussed the hiring of a substitute nurse and the possibility of employing a second school nurse in the following school year. Custodian contract negotiations and the school calendar were reviewed by the Personnel Committee led by Mrs. Berry. Mrs. Villasuso from the Education Committee reported on the completion of winter assessments and the analysis of data to guide instructional and intervention strategies. Mr. Pelli from the Finance Committee, and Mr. Mele from the Policy Committee, contributed to the financial and policy-related discussions.

The upcoming referendum and the importance of community participation were emphasized, particularly in light of the site clearing project. Mr. Fytros, in his report as the Oradell Park liaison, noted the absence of updates since the last meeting but mentioned an upcoming meeting.

Public comments revealed concerns about the new school construction’s costs, state funding uncertainties, and specific features, such as a rooftop playground and new cafeteria. The board addressed these concerns, explaining that the $38 million construction budget encompasses all necessary expenses and that state funding would assist in debt repayment rather than directly offset construction costs. Board members Mrs. Villasuso and Mr. Bonelli provided detailed explanations and reassurances regarding the proposed plans.

Superintendent Matthew A. Perrapato and the board engaged in a discussion about the potential use of modular classrooms for revenue generation by renting them out. Concerns about tax increases due to the construction project were raised, with the superintendent assuring the public that efforts to secure additional funding were underway. The board weighed the costs and benefits of renovation versus new construction, considering factors such as flood risk and ADA compliance. The board highlighted the importance of investing in the community and the education system’s needs.

Security enhancements were also on the agenda, including a discussion about applying for a grant for window security film. The board considered the best ways to allocate reserve funds for specific purposes and addressed inquiries about potential playground improvements.

The meeting concluded with the revelation of a historic discovery at the Washington School—a 110-year-old time capsule scheduled to be opened on March 3rd. Superintendent Perrapato also took the time to recognize the December and January students of the month for their academic achievements and leadership qualities.

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.
Matthew A. Perrapato
School Board Officials:
Victoria Bradley, Brian Bonelli, Michelle Brattoli, Nick Fytros, Leslie Gottlieb, Frank Mele, Purna Patel, Lourdes Villasuso, Ray Vorisek, James Dunn (Supervisor of Curriculum & Instruction/Gifted and Talented Coordinator)

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