With less than two (2) hours left before the polls closed on the 2011 school budget election on March 27th, School Superintendent Patrick Spagnoletti announced that the Board was notified six (6) days earlier that the 2011-2012 school budget will have an additional $250,000.00 in funds that have not been allocated to any budget line items.
“On Thursday, April 19, 2011, the Board Of Education (BOE) received a final estimate regarding the school district’s health benefit costs,” Mr. Spagnoletti stated during the New Business portion of the BOE meeting, “The final estimate for the medical benefit premium will be renewed at 11.9% and dental premium will be renewed at 1.2%.”
He noted that throughout the budget presentations held in February and March the BOE budgeted 15% of the district’s total budget for health benefits.
“In doing the math calculations, we realized that we are going to save approximately $250,000,” he continued, “So the administration and the principals are going to be meeting over the next week or two to recommend to the Board [and] make some suggestions as to what we think some of the pressing needs might be keeping in mind that this could just be, once again, a one (1) year, one (1) shot [deal] because… we are going to be losing the $350,000 in state aid next year and we don’t know where health benefits are going to fall in.”
There was no mention made by the superintendent or the Board as to what would happen to those funds if the budget were to be defeated later that evening. Additionally, the increase in available funds could not be reflected in the budget vote since the news came out after the budget was introduced.
When asked by Jacob Magiera during the second public comment section of the meeting if some of the newly found $250,000.00 could be used to bring back RP-TV, School Superintendent Patrick Spagnoletti responded, “That’s certainly going to be one of the many things we are going to discuss over the net couple of weeks.”
Mr. Magiera then asked, “How do you intent to spend this $250,000.00 in addition to Roselle Park -TV?”
BOE President Roseann Rinaldi answered, “Since the Board just learned of this tonight, no decisions have been made and I’m sure what it will require is meeting with all the administrators to see what is at the top of the list of ‘needed to be’ [and] if we can bring something back but no decisions have been yet nor will it be made tonight.”
The school budget was passed later that evening by a 2-1 margin.