In a recent session of the Ramapo Indian Hills Board of Education, a diverse range of issues were discussed. The board adopted a $67,287,284 budget for the 2023-2024 school year, addressed personnel changes, established partnerships for teacher development, and responded to community concerns over transparency and legal expenses.
The annual budget, with $57,087,584 coming from local tax levies, was a key focus of the meeting. The budget included provisions for expenses that exceeded a 2% increase in benefits, salaries, and educational costs. The Board also approved withdrawals from different reserves, including $824,500 from the Maintenance Reserve and $3 million from the Capital Reserve to offset costs in the 2023-24 budget.
In personnel matters, the Board accepted several resignations and retirements, including those of long-serving district employee, Mark Aug. They also approved new hires across a range of positions and appointed coaches and administrators for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years. Alexandra Brown was approved as a Spanish Teacher with an annual salary of $91,288, and Gina Huerta-Cara’s assignment was changed to IHHS Administrative Assistant to the Principal with an annual salary of $74,075 plus longevity $1,800.
The Board also confirmed a partnership with St. Elizabeth University to equip Board employees with college-level instruction needed for the issuance of the Teacher of Students with Disabilities endorsement. The program is a strategic response to the shortage of education professionals for these students.
Despite the multitude of educational advancements, the meeting was not without controversy. During the public comment section, concerns were raised over legal expenses, potential conflicts of interest, vendor relationships, and OPRA request costs. Transparency issues were also addressed during the open board discussion, specifically concerning the non-renewal of a contract with Mr. Fogarty’s law firm and subsequent legal purchase orders.