Budget flat so far

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:04

    Final numbers depend on state aid package, By Jennifer Knocha Hardyston — Setting up a budget for a school district is never easy, and with this economic climate, it’s even harder, but Hardyston Township School Board seems to be keeping its budgetary head above water. According the Acting Chief School Administrator Anthony Norod, the budget has made it through another set of revisions, leading to $75,000 worth of cuts. So far, all of the sports and extracurricular programs have survived. Those programs, slated to be cut last year and saved only through a second question at the polls, were considered appropriate for the chopping block again this year. The board chose to cut in many other areas, however, in hopes of keeping all of the programs whole this year. Instead, two teachers have been cut, and some class sizes have been increased. Other cuts have been made throughout the school district. Overall, they’ve cut $275,000 already, according to Norod, which has left the district with a zero increase over last year’s budget. The rules permit an increase over the previous year’s budget by 4 percent, and that 4 percent was the subject of some debate by the board. Board member Alice Bresset thinks the district should use some of that leeway, because if they don’t, it will only come back to haunt them later. She argued that if the board doesn’t take the increase this year, it will be held to the same increase in funds for the following year. “Fixed expenses are only going to go up. The problem will only compound itself if we hold back now.” Board President Jerry Lanzalotto, however, would like a flat budget, for a number of reasons. “I don’t think we should be increasing taxpayers’ costs at all,” he commented. He cited as his chief reasons the upcoming second referendum for the roof repairs and the likelihood that state aid would not be increased. Board member Christine Clavin agreed with Lanzalotto, also mentioning the badly-needed roof repairs as her main reason.