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UPDATE: BOE OKs Plan to Outsource, GREA Prez Lays Out Cost-Saving Alternatives

District's request for bids could go out as soon as Friday

The Glen Rock Board of Education voted overwhelmingly Monday evening to move forward to obtain outsourcing proposals that will likely impact approximately 63 school jobs in the 2011-2012 school year.

Glen Rock Education Association President Anne Camp said Monday that a closed-door vote on whether to modify school staff contracts in an effort to fight back outsourcing failed "overwhelmingly."

District Superintendent David Verducci stated during the BOE meeting that among his goals had been finding alternative solutions to the current budget crisis which is likely to cost dozens of custodial staff and possibly teachers' aides their jobs.

The school, hamstrung by a 2 percent tax cap decrease handed down from Trenton last year, has been forced to examine ways to eliminate more than $1 million of budget expenses in a matter of months.

"We have heard the public's opinion on outsourcing," Verducci said. "That is one of the reasons why we worked so hard to find alternatives."

But, the caucus of GREA and Glen Rock Administrators Association Monday afternoon may have been the final push against outsourcing.

The Board voted 7-0 — members Sheldon Hirschberg and Anita Kalra were absent — in favor of the resolution authorizing the School Business Administrator/Board Attorney to "finalize bid specifications" for outsourcing of custodial and management services for next school year.

Randi Blumberg, who has said she will run for re-election when her term expires later this year, was the only board member who voted against the resolution specifically authorizing the outsourcing instuctional aides.

Business administrator Michael Rinderknecht said that requests for proposals could go out as soon as this Friday.

In line with Verducci's stated desire to find alternates to outsourcing, GREA President Anne Camp, during the meeting's public comment session, enumerated a list of cost saving options to the Board of Education last night.

She said the following reductions were "jointly proposed" to the Board more than a month ago: "Reduce elementary and secondary school budgets by 10% realizing a cost savings of $40,000; factor in anticipated breakage due to retirement $287,500; reduce the director of curriculum budget by $10,000; go green immediately and eliminate all paper forms, report cards and mid-marking slips, saving the district $6,000; eliminate all middle school and high school agendas for a cost saving $6,280; eliminate travel reimbursement for savings of $20,800; reduce text books across the district by $100,000; reduce summer curriculum work for a savings of $50,000 for the district; eliminate all middle school and high school clubs for a saving of $76,658; cut teachers office supplies for a savings of $17,250; eliminate middle school sports, a savings of $65,000; eliminate printing of our negotiating contract for a savings of $1,000; reduce police presence at middle school dances thus realizing a savings of $600. That totals $681,088.

"We instruct the superintendent, business administration and Board of Education to investigate those wide-ranging consortiums we provided you with weeks ago."

In addition, Camp said, if the Board developed a comprehensive activity fee it may generate up to $250,000 provided elementary schools were included; if the school charged building use fees for groups not associated with the school the "savings alone for [February are] possibly $5,290."

Costs associated with outsourcing, according to Camp, would be approximately $90,000 for the district's liability for unemployment compensation and payment of a contract with edvocate that requires a $90,000 fee to be paid over 5 years.

High School Principal James McCarthy spoke in support of Camp's statements.

"The solutions that you heard are acceptable solutions, some of the long-term," McCarthy said. "And we have probably another whole page [of solutions]."

Verducci, responding to Camp's litany, said that he and the Board have already factored in many of Camp's suggestions and that going forward they would be looking at recurrent savings.

"Many of the things that were mentioned along the way were in direct opposition to each other," Verducci said. "If we cut out certain kinds of activities and sports we take away the basis of some of the activity fees."

Carlo Cella, the chairman of the Board's finance committee, breaking down the genesis of the financial crisis, said that the state ripped 100 percent of its state aid from the district's hands at a cost of $1.75 million. That was before Gov. Chris Christie's 2 percent cap came down from Trenton.

"Our cap is $784,000 ... contracted salaries going into next year are $862,000 so just with salaries alone we are over cap," Cella said.

He went on to detail further costs for the district — approximately $400,000 for health care, $203,000 in pension contributions, and growing special education costs that he puts at 21.4 percent of the school budget.

"We have a $1 million problem just in those 4 line items alone," Cella said.

He added that the problem is not likely to go away, and that one-time spending solutions such as the ones Camp suggested would merely put off the inevitable.

"If we cut out all of the individual, one-time spends could we balance the budget this year? Absolutely, positively," Cella said. "And where would we be next year? We're talking about the same things we're talking about this year. ... If you project it out to the following year, the same types of basic scenarios, we're looking at a cap problem of $1.3 million and those are conservative numbers. "

"We have to look at this as a multi-year problem and if we don't do that, we will be in dire straits," Cella shot back, saying that programs would be cut and class sizes would balloon. "We will be doing everything that everyone in this room doesn't want us to do."

"Hard decisions have to be made," Cella said.

"Our opportunity is either to take the short-term hits and pay the price again next year or we can make some hard decisions today and at least assure that Glen Rock will be in a solid fiscal pos and solid educational position so that we can advance while [other school districts] are retreating."

Board member Randi Blumberg — who expressed opposition to outsourcing, yet voted with reservations, for it — said after the BOE meeting that she doesn't want to see outsiders coming into the school.

She conceded that at least part of the custodial staff — the overnight crew — may have to see some losses, but that she was "not ready" to outsource the educational support staff, which includes teachers' aides.

Following the contentious 2-hour-plus meeting, Blumberg, the board's Community Relations chairperson, stressed that going forward the community and the school board need to come together to "formulate future budgets."

 

Story Updated, Tuesday, 9:37 a.m.

John Hahn February 22, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Elizabeth Kramer Carr. I am sorry if you feel if I have somehow berated you. I truly do. This is a discussion. I discussion is a back & forth. Since you hardly know me then I can understand you might not be used to If you review all the comments, you will see I do not comment on EVERYTHING EVERYONE writes. Hyperbole and generalizations such as what you wrote do not help us find common ground. Perhaps you feel my responding to you is somehow berating you. That is your prerogative. I encourage robust discussion where everyone can express their opinions. We obvious disagree on the topic. Your solution seems to be to muzzle me. That does not help to build a strong community which I believe is the best thing we can do for children. Teach them how to think and discuss topics. I look forward to your & others responses.
John Hahn February 22, 2011 at 02:12 PM
At the risk of incurring Ms. Carr's rath, @Woodside. Statistically it is insignificant. Mr. McCarthy has a son going off to college. His son currently attends a private school. Maybe he is tired of GR. If he found a better deal elsewhere that is great for him. We still need to keep an eye on our purse strings. The information out this AM is that it is harder for many to sell their homes. If you never plan to move out of GR then high taxes have no bearing on you. But I have neighbors who want to move but can not because they could not find a buyer.
JM February 22, 2011 at 02:39 PM
He's leaving Glen Rock for a parochial preK-8th elementary school, not a high school.
Lisa H February 22, 2011 at 03:16 PM
So nasty, Elizabeth. Maybe dial it back some?
John Hahn February 22, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Ms Carr, I am sorry you feel so hostile towards me. I have many nice things to say about some educators in GR. Mr. Broadhead is exceptional. Mr. Ecochard is superb & dedicated. Mr. Voorhis is another incredible teacher who gives a great deal to his students. We are discussing a certain aspect of the funding of the GR public school system. It is wonderful you attend every school board meeting. Perhaps if they were broadcast more residents could participate. You wrote: research the facts before I speak. OK how did you research your statement: "People move to GR for the education" I would love to see the proof of this statement. The next question is do thes people take an active interest in the funding of the education system? Do they follow the issues? Are they regiustered to vote? Do they vote in the annual school board election? Is money (higher & higher property taxes) no problem to them? Regarding the police department please re-read what I wrote. If you like I will give you the facts that I know privately & off-line. All I am saying is that some GRPD officers have made-up facts to suit their story. Why do I stay? Our children. Tim is in GRHS. We want him to finish. We have family in town including my father who is in his 80's. It is a walkable town. It is easy to get to Paramus or NYC via car or mass transit. I do not have the Mayberry RFD that some people in GR have but does that mean I should leave? Let's stick to the topic find solutions.

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