On Tuesday, April 20, 2010 a record number of residents came out and voted for the annual school election and budget question.
While I am very appreciative of the positive outcome for the school and the community, the Board of Education and I were faced with very difficult decisions. The decisions we faced were not unlike the decisions that each resident faces. What is the best way to live within our means?
By now, many of you are well versed in the ongoing conflict between the governor and the New Jersey Education Association. I am sure that some of you have had enough of the rhetoric.
The Board and I would like to share the following information with the community:
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- The Atlantic Highlands School District stopped receiving payments in state education aid in February 2010. They will not begin again anytime soon. This represents a loss of $92,000.
- For the 2010-2011 school year the loss in state aid amounts to $260,000.
- With a combined loss of $350,000 in state aid, the board eliminated or reduced 11 full or part-time positions.
- For all intents and purposes, the Atlantic Highlands School District has lost all of our state aid for the upcoming year.
- The Board and I have always tried to be fiscally prudent. Overall, the community has responded positively by approving the budget four straight years.
- We continue to seek any and all educational grants to offset taxes.
- Our preschool is tuition based and we have opened up spots for out-of-district tuition students. This has the potential to generate significant revenue for the district.
- For the past 12 years, the Atlantic Highlands School District employees have contributed to the cost of their health care. In some cases, this current contribution is higher than what the law going into affect on May 22nd will be.
- As of this writing, the solar panels have been delivered, all wiring is complete, we are awaiting the mounting brackets on or about May 1st. The solar panels are a long-term solution to an ever increasing utility cost.
- We belong to consortiums/cooperatives to purchase everything from natural gas, copying paper, ink cartridges, classroom supplies, and calculators, to just name a few.
I understand some are not happy with the recommendations that I have made, and the board has accepted in order, to live within our means. I also recognize those in the community who feel that more should have been reduced. The only promises I can make is that the Board and I will continue to live within our means.
Atlantic Highlands is referred to as the “Jewel of the Bayshore.” I believe this to be true. I feel that the “Jewel of the Bayshore” shines brighter through the hard work and dedication of the entire faculty, staff and fiscal prudence of the Board of Education.
I welcome all of our neighbors on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. to our community Board of Education meetings.
Christopher J. Rooney
Superintendent of Schools
Atlantic Highlands, NJ