Friday, July 12, 2024

Frelinghuysen Gets New Faces and a New Budget

The Frelinghuysen Board of Education met on June 19th for a brief and mostly celebratory meeting.

“It’s been a wonderful end of the school year,” said Chief School Administrator Jarlyn Veras. She went on to thank the board, staff, families, students, and community.  “I wish our students a great summer and to our graduates, the best of luck.”

Soon after, a tricky personnel question came before the board. They needed to hire a teacher to cover a maternity leave from September 3, 2024 to February 3, 2025. Most of the school’s available substitute teachers are not authorized to teach more than twenty consecutive days in the same position, per state law.

Few qualified candidates applied for the maternity leave position. In good news, the board had identified a top contender. The bad news: she has a family member in the class.

Board Vice President Lori Anne Swistak noted that a similar situation had previously caused issues for other students.

After some discussion, the board agreed to table the question for later decision making.

The board gave a cheery welcome to Mr. Edward Flores as the school’s new Business Administrator and Board Secretary for the 2024-2025 school year. “You’re in a good place,” said Greg Brennan. Brennan will step down as Interim Business Administrator with Flores as his replacement.

After a reminder to attend Frelinghuysen’s land use meeting on July 1st, the board went into executive (private) session to discuss the budget and the CSA evaluation.

Like many schools in the area, Frelinghuysen has seen its state equalization aid reduced due to the state’s new funding formula for public education. In mid-May, the state government passed two laws designed to help districts that lost funding. Some schools had a portion of their lost funding restored. Others were granted the right to raise tax levies beyond the standard 2% annual limit.

Frelinghuysen depends more on its local tax levy for funding compared to the average NJ school. While local taxes cover less than half of most school budgets, Frelinghuysen relies on taxes for 75% of its budget.

After the June 19th meeting, the board posted a revised budget on its website. The revised budget indicates that the board elected to use its new ability to raise the tax levy beyond the usual limits.

In the revised budget, the local tax levy will be $229,132 higher next year. This is a 9.9% increase, the maximum increase permitted by the new state law. Frelinghuysen’s previous budget, approved in May, projected a tax increase of 2.57%.

The board originally planned to hold its public budget hearing on June 27, but that meeting was canceled. The hearing to approve the revised budget is now scheduled for Wednesday, July 3 at 6 pm.

Chip O'Chang
Chip O'Chang, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Chip O'Chang is an educator, fiction writer, and lifelong resident of New Jersey. He has also written for My Life Publications and NJ Indy. He lives in the NJ Skylands with his partner, two cats, and and a bearded dragon.