Summit Board of Education Discusses School Budget in Wake of Loss of State Aid
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 • 12:05pm
SUMMIT, NJ - In the wake of the release of district-by-district state funding figures showing that Summit would not receive any State funding this coming year, a reduction in support of over $2M, the Summit Board of Education met on Thursday evening at Washington School to discuss the 2010-11 budget.
Like other local communities, Summit's budget committee is grappling with balancing public needs with the constraints of declining revenues.
Nathan Parker, Superintendent for the Summit Public Schools, provided a presentation on the board's budget plans for the upcoming fiscal year. Dr. Parker's report stated that "maintaining the integrity and overall quality of school educational programs" is a primary goal. Possibly working against that goal, however, is that property tax increases are expected to be capped at 2 ½%. That combined with a new funding formula that will eliminate State aid for towns like Summit will likely create a shortfall that must be addressed. Planned capital projects and required facilities maintenance could add further pressure on local finances. Nevertheless, the board is committed to maintaining budget discipline and to long-term property tax stability.
It is also evident that Summit schools have achieved many major accomplishments in a variety of areas including its curriculum, special education and finance. According to Dr. Parker, Summit will continue to thrive as one of the best high schools in the state despite budget constraints. Jack Lyness, Vice President of the Board of Education, stated that "we are in the best financial shape we have been in since I have been familiar with our schools."
Other topics included in the meeting centered on the recognition of those students who have shown exceptional accomplishment in all facets of education, including outstanding work in the arts as well as athletics. Board member, George Lucaci, announced the names of those students deserving such recognition.
Another section of the meeting involved the discussion of the Washington Elementary School gardens. These gardens are a relatively new addition to the school's educational program and serve as a unique and exciting way to strengthen and enhance the classroom curriculum. Through research and observation, members of the school administration have seen first-hand how beneficial these gardens have been in creating a fun and educational learning experience for young students.
Through various activities students incorporate certain educational strategies learned in the classroom and apply them in a unique setting that provides hands-on learning while teaching problem solving and decision making in real-life contexts. Each grade level has its own garden with a theme. These themes include the butterfly garden, the friendship garden, the pumpkin garden and the salad garden. Each garden provides the student with a personal experience and appreciation for the environment and all of its life forms. In addition, they allow for children to view their early education as an exciting experience of discovery and reflection.
Students from the 3rd and 5th grade gave presentations for the audience expressing what they had learned through their experiences with the gardens and how they have enriched their education.