Vernon. The Vernon school board agreed to apply for a New Jersey Stabilization Aid Grant to replace personnel lost as a result of state aid reductions in recent years.
Assistant Superintendent Charles McKay said on Sept. 9 that the district is applying for $4 million to replace 49 positions over the last three years of state aid cuts.
It would be a one-time infusion after which the district will return to not replacing retired teachers.
“We are in the middle of writing this grant,” McKay said. “It is a huge undertaking. I’m not talking about the grant writing itself, but the process of this piece. It is the state acknowledging that the $10 million cut they gave us in the last few years have destabilized school districts.”
The grant application asks if the district drew funds from the CAP bank last year, and how many teachers lost positions. While the application asked about 2018-19, McKay said the district starting planning two years prior, which is how the district wound up where it was.
The school board made huge staff cuts with its retire/not replace policy in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19, “leading to where we were this past year,” McKay said.
With the board’s approval in place, the district plans to send off the application on Sept. 22. The district is supposed to get an answer back in six to eight weeks.
“We’re asking for a lot of money,” McKay said.
The application also asked how the district would make up the $4 million the next year.
McKay said that would be done through breakage — bringing in teachers at lower salaries to replace higher-paid retirees.
McKay said cuts still to come over the next two years.
“The only way to not destabilize us is to not cut us,” he said.