Readington School Board Addresses Budget and Student Performance

In a recent meeting, the Readington School Board focused on the tentative budget for the upcoming school year and the district’s student performance in comparison to state averages. Notably, the discussions concentrated on managing the budget within the 2% State property tax levy cap, enriching student experiences, and capital improvements. Furthermore, the board examined student achievement data, revealing that Readington students are outperforming their peers in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics according to the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA).

The tentative budget presentation was a cornerstone of the meeting. The board addressed enrollment figures, which are anticipated to rise due to new housing developments, and the impact of the preschool expansion on enrollment. With these changes, the district aims to prepare by adjusting the budget accordingly. Goals were outlined to present a budget that would remain under the state-mandated property tax levy cap while making allowances for these enrollment increases.

Key budget highlights included the integration of a Behavioral Health counselor’s position into the local budget, a reconfiguration of teaching staff positions through attrition, and increased wages for police officers as part of shared services. This also involved expanding the preschool program, which would necessitate adding new teaching staff and paraprofessionals to accommodate the growing number of preschool students. Additionally, the budget has provisions for curricular and pupil services, highlighting continued support for students with special needs, mental health services, and English language learners.

The board then discussed capital projects and tax levy, focusing on funding construction through reserves. A significant project at Readington Middle School was mentioned, entailing the removal of asbestos and the redesign of the main office, counselors, and nurses’ offices. This project is expected to extend into the school year, raising concerns about safety and access for students and staff during construction.

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Other capital projects and initiatives were addressed, such as refurbishing preschool rooms, expanding solar energy usage, and upgrading LED lighting in middle school classrooms. Alongside these, the district planned to enhance security measures in partnership with the local police department and improve playgrounds, athletic fields, and add new rooms at White House School. The board emphasized a conservative approach to budget management, enabling funding for these capital projects primarily through reserves and grants.

A significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to presenting student achievement data. Readington students have consistently outperformed other districts with similar socio-economic statuses in ELA and math on the NJSLA. Specifically, 72% of Readington students met or exceeded grade level expectations in ELA, contrasting with 62% in similar districts and 61% in Hunterdon County. In math, 58% of Readington students met or exceeded expectations, compared to 49% in similar districts and 50% in Hunterdon County.

The board underscored the positive performance of Readington students, noting that the district’s free and reduced population is between 10 and 20% and that students are performing relatively evenly with other district factor groupings in New Jersey. There was some discussion about the data’s breakdown by class and grade to show student progress and the relevance of district factor group comparison based on the year 2000 census data, acknowledging changes in socioeconomic status of other districts since then.

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Public comments during the meeting brought attention to the process of filling a vacant board seat. Nominations for individuals were made, and debate ensued regarding the voting process and the majority vote required for election. Subsequently, a roll call vote was conducted to determine the new board member, which resulted in a debate about the voting policy, specifically the number of votes needed to pass motions and fill the board vacancy. Board members and attorneys disagreed on whether five votes were necessary, leading to a request for a short analysis from the attorney regarding the ambiguity in the policy. This resulted in the board agreeing to proceed with the rest of the meeting and then discuss the nomination matter in executive session.

In addition to these topics, the board tackled administrative reports which included health and dental insurance renewal recommendations, budget updates, and coordination with the green committee on a proposed solar expansion. Updates on the mental health program, curricular materials, midyear diagnostics, parent academy, teacher academy catalog, and preschool registration were also presented. Staffing updates on the RMS assistant principal search were reviewed in the personnel committee report.

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.

Superintendent:
Jonathan Hart
School Board Officials:
Dr. Camille Cerciello, Ellen DePinto, Elizabeth Fiore, Michele Mencer, Randall J. Peach, Carolyn Podgorski, Justina Ryan, Jennifer Wolf, Jason Bohm (Business Administrator/Board Secretary)

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