Lyndhurst School Board Grapples with Surplus: Paraprofessionals or Prudence

At a recent meeting of the Lyndhurst School Board, a lively debate arose over the use of a projected $25,000 budget surplus. Members weighed supporting paraprofessionals versus financial prudence.

The most contentious issue revolved around whether to direct the surplus towards paraprofessionals’ funding. One board member championed the proposal, arguing that these crucial members of the teaching staff needed additional support. However, concerns arose around whether this surplus was guaranteed or merely a projection, and if a recurring commitment based on projected surplus was financially prudent.

A board member countered the proposal stating, “I’m cautious about you spending money that’s now a projection.” Additionally, as the next year’s budget had already been passed, any changes would require reductions in other areas to maintain balance. The board member explained: “you’re going to have to reduce something else in next year’s budget budget to offset that twenty five thousand dollars.”

Despite the tense debate, the board found common ground in their shared recognition of paraprofessionals’ importance. They acknowledged their need to balance current and future needs, keeping in mind their obligations to educators and students in the district. The matter was tabled for the August meeting, with members agreeing to further discussions before the vote.

In other matters, Michael Rizzo’s appointment as the Middle School Principal at an annual salary of $180,000, effective July 1, 2023, was met with applause. The financial health of the district was also confirmed with the state monitor’s report, showing that the school board had enough funds to meet its financial obligations for the rest of the school year.

In addition to the surplus debate, the board considered a request for a salary adjustment from lunch aides seeking a $2 raise. Although the minimum wage increase had already resulted in a $1 rise, the possibility of meeting the additional $1 request by August was also taken under advisement.

An appreciation for local businesses was expressed, particularly those that supported the Lyndhurst Middle School’s Field Day. Board member Mr. de Corso read a heartfelt thank you note for the businesses, including Jersey Mike’s, Villitalia restaurant, A1 Pizza, and King Distributors, stating that they “appreciate all that these neighborhood businesses have given to the LMS community.”

Before adjourning, the board took a moment to express their gratitude to the educational community. The newly appointed LEA President Darius Hughes underscored the need for better support and competitive pay for substitute teachers, which the board agreed needed addressing in the upcoming school year.

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