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School Budget Adopted; Board to Revisit November School Elections

Ed Barmakian

Thursday, March 27, 2014 • 11:40pm

CHATHAM, NJ - Now it's up to the voters on April 23.

The District of the Chathams Board of Education unanimously adopted its 2014-2015 budget of $65,673,886 on Thursday night and it will be up for approval by the public on April 23.

Also up for approval will be "Separate Proposal No. 1" to enhance and augment the district technology program in the 2014-2015 school year at a cost of $460,000. This would be a permanent increase and raise the tax levy by .82 percent.

If passed, the tax increase would go from 2.52 percent to 3.34 percent.

"On additional funding on technology, we decided to put it into the second question to make sure the public is comfortable with the extra expenditure,"  Matt Gilfillan, the board's finance committee chairman, said. "We can't do it on our own. We think it's the prudent thing to do so we can produce a budget that turns the lights on. The technology program benefits and touches every kid. These are K through 12 programs. We think it's prudent to add programs and we also think it's prudent to ask the public if they're willing to fund it. We think it's the right thing to do."

It was pointed out that the majority of the increase in the school budget included the rise of health-care costs and money spent on sending special education students to out-of-district programs.

During the discussion of the budget, board member Richard Connors proposed that the board revisit a discussion on whether to move school elections to November or leave them in April. When asked, Peter Daquila, board business administrator and secretary, estimated that between $20,000 and $25,000 could be saved by holding school elections in November.

"We addressed this issue a couple years ago, but the board has changed since then," Connors said. "I'm in favor of the April election, Ms. Weber (board member Jill Critchley Weber) is in favor of November. I'd like to bring it up again for the new members and maybe the public feels differently. I think it was pretty strong at that point for April elections, but if the sentiment has changed and we can save $25,000, I'd like to bring it up again. I'd be opposed to the change, but I can appreciate that the board has changed and I'm in favor of discussing it at a future meeting."

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