Board of Education workshops kick off budget season

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

The Board of Education (BOE) is preparing the fiscal budget, which goes into effect on July 1, for the 2017-2018 school year. Workshops are scheduled for Tuesday Jan. 17 in the Hatton Elementary School media center and Thursday Jan. 19 in the John Weichsel Municipal Center assembly room. Both events begin at 7 p.m.

The current financial crisis in the state has caused concern for the Board, especially because the state announced unexpected cuts halfway through this fiscal year. BOE chair Brian Goralski said that the magic word this year was “uncertainty.”

“Because they cut money in the middle of the year, we would be foolish to think [the state] wouldn’t reduce it further,” he said. “This year, there’s even more uncertainty with the state’s ability to honor their requirements.”

The workshops are designed to keep the public informed about the budget process and offer transparency, just as the board spends those evenings understanding the document. The first workshop is designed for the Superintendent to present his budget to the BOE.

“We have an obligation to understand and approve it,” Goralski said.

While they are open to the public for viewing, no public comments can be made during the workshop time. However, public comment is available at all regular BOE meetings. This month’s meetings are Jan. 12 and Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

Superintendent Timothy Connellan said, “The expectation is that the Board will discuss the Superintendent’s proposed budget during the budget workshops and then vote to adopt a budget at the Jan. 26 meeting.”

Public hearings for all residents to voice their opinions will be scheduled following adoption of the budget. “This is one of the most important years for the residents to pay attention,” Goralski said. “This is a year where we should have a full auditorium.”

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