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No Tax Increase in $111M School Budget

Superintendent Penny MacCormack suggested the district create four dean of students positions at elementary schools and three content supervisors, totaling $754,000 in new costs.

The Montclair Board of Education's 2013-14 preliminary budget includes no tax levy increase and seven new positions.  

The $111.5 million budget is a decease of 3.3 percent from the previous year’s. Montclair taxpayers will foot about 90 percent of the bill. 

The budget, however, is still liable to change said Superintendent Penny MacCormack at the presentation on Monday as state and federal aid is not yet know. 

“This is part of a longer process,” said MacCormack, “and just simply the beginning.” 

Interim Business Administrator Nicolas Puleio said he expects state aid to be funded at the same level as this year, about $6.5 million, which comes to 5.8 percent of the budget. The district was waiting for Gov. Chris Christie’s budget presentation on Tuesday to find out how much it will receive in state aid. 

How much the district will receive in federal funds is another matter. Puleio said the district has budgeted a 25 percent decrease in federal aid for different programs in anticipation of the potential sequestration in Washington, or across-the-board cuts in federal aid set to begin Friday. 

Next year’s budget plans for $2.2 million in special revenue and entitlements, a 37.3 percent decrease from last year, and $478,000 for the Adult School, a 16.3 percent decrease. 

The $13.4 million surplus will also be whittled down to about $1.2 million. The board will use $4.7 of the surplus in the 2012-13 school budget, set aside $2.4 for future projects, $500,00 for maintenance and $2.2 for state-mandated reserves. The remaining funds are dedicated to other sources. 

MacCormack said she is interested in creating seven new positions: four dean of students at Bradford, Bullock, Northeast and Watchung elementary schools, and three content supervisors. The dean positions will come with a price tag of $400,000, and content supervisors will cost $354,000. 

The growing populations at those four elementary schools, said MacCormack, induced her to recommend appointing deans. The deans will help with discipline and daily operations in order to reduce the workload on principals and allow them to spend more time in classrooms. 

The content supervisors would offer advice on developing Common Core State Standards and help with the large number of evaluations at Montclair High School. The supervisors would be experts in English or language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, said MacCormack. 

The district must submit its budget to the Essex County superintendent by March 7. The board expects to present and pass a final budge on March 25. 

I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 February 27, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Superintendent Macormick promised, in her own Plan of Entry , "to listen and learn about the Montclair Public Schools and work collaboratively to develop, articulate, and execute an education vision for the future." Between December 2012 and April 2013 she promised to listen and learn about Montclair's schools and then submit a "90 Days of School Report" to the community before developing a strategic plan. This, however, has not been the case. At the end of January, before any report or even the hint of a strategic plan for discussion, she pushed through an unproven Principle Evaluation Plan, that was not developed through discussions with parents, students, and the community and that was not budgeted. Now as she and the BOE are refusing to negotiate further with the present and core Montclair teachers, she is coming forward with a proposal for more pork on the school budget: 7 new positions, not a single one of which is needed in Montclair. These positions have not been discussed with parents or the community, and there is absolutely no need for them or for a commitment to spend taxpayer's money ad infinitum on jobs that are not needed by the schools.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 February 27, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Superintendent Maccormick is a bull in a china shop. She has not used this period of entry granted to her to learn about Montclair and its schools, and she has not come forward with an "Outline Strategic Plan Process" that has been discussed with teachers, teacher aids, parents, students, and community members. Superintendent Maccormick's orientation appears to be toward Trenton politics on education with a focus on "Common Core State Standards" and costly administration that, not only ignores teachers in classrooms, but will actually hinder them in carrying out meaningful education. Superintendent Maccormick may be scoring points with her ex-colleagues in the state government, but it comes at the expense of the abandonment of Montclair's "students first principle." The Montclair School District will fall in quality and objective rankings compared to other school districts, increased BOE expenses (into forever), Penny Maccormick, perhaps take some time to get to know the community and its schools before trying to make the town's school look like those in Trenton. Common core curriculum requirements, standardized testing, and heavy-sided administration are not the focus of a "student first" philosophy. Do listen and learn from the teachers, students, parents and community members.
hereswhatithink February 27, 2013 at 03:57 PM
The high school does not need a layer of content supervisors. I believe having the assisting vice principals be these supervisors as they are now is sufficient. I currently have a child at the high school and I also had one at the high school when they used to have supervisors. In my experience, the previous content supervisors usually did not teach any classes and were away at conferences more than they were in the building. They did not know the student at issue any more than the current assistant principals do and things are done more efficiently now by getting an assistant principal approval rather than by getting a supervisor approval in the past I do not think this idea to return to content supervisors for just another layer of management is necessary.
Montclair Public February 27, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Got to love this superintendent, who wants to cut this, kill that, force hard-working folks on the front line to pay more for health care -- and then turn around and add another layer of six-figure central office administrators who will do, what, exactly? She is who she is, a product of the Christie-Cerf culture, but what does it say for our crack board that hired her? i already know the folks on the board do not represent the Montclair educational ideals -- but do they even understand them?
Montclair's Own February 27, 2013 at 05:32 PM
I'd-Rather-Be... Why do you think the Supt. can't hire anyone down at Central Office? No one wants to work for her. She will be as divisive an educational figure in this town as any union or BOE.
Stuart Weissman February 27, 2013 at 07:23 PM
On the Front Line? Oy vey!
Marlis Dunn February 27, 2013 at 07:58 PM
No more managers, deans, principals, assistants etc. We have enough managers
Brian Ford February 28, 2013 at 02:04 AM
They taught 1-3 classes and were not on conferences much. They played a very important role. Obviously, some better than others, but they are vital. I'm not one for unnecessary management - if money can be used better fir the classroom (hiring teachers, improving tech, etc.), I'd be the first to go for it. BUT what is missed with supervisors is not often seen on the front end/end user side that a parent sees. The APs are overworked, and some content supervisors are needed if there is going to be effective evaluation and using evals to inform PD. The state shoved this new eval nonsense through, and it requires a lot more labor (and $$$) to do. That said, there are concerns. Only 4 core subject supervisors - What about arts? What about health/PE? What about business ed? Also, these type of admin roles are different from former supervisor roles -- they are more removed from daily classroom life and that will affect evals, morale, and other issues. Additionally, Dr. Mac said one role they'd have is "developing assessments" -- which could be jut more top-down standardization if not done well.
Brian Ford February 28, 2013 at 02:06 AM
As you know, MP, I am VERY critical of the Christie-Cerf regime and the "reform" nonsense and would love to see that money spent elsewhere. But I'm at MHS and, in my opinion, we do need some more content-specific supervisory people back in the mix. See my above comment for more.
Brian Ford February 28, 2013 at 02:11 AM
What's lost in the discussion of supervisor/admins in the irresponsibly preposterous notion of not increasing taxes (and being proud of it). As was stated at the meeting, this is all preliminary, so let's hope we come to our senses. The BOE should not be proud of line graphs showing taxes going down -- they should be proud of efforts to fund MPS to the fullest extent and then letting the BSE hash things out. We went from being concerned with top schools to being concerned with bottom lines; from educational creativity to "fiscal responsibility." Shameful. I came to work and live in a very different Montclair just 5 years ago.
carols February 28, 2013 at 02:36 AM
The new evaluations were something that was discussed at a number of BOE meetings last year before Dr MacCormack became superintendent. My understanding is the common core is a state mandate - not something being imposed by Dr MacCormack or the board. I have actually heard from several teachers and admins that this is going to be a good thing- teachers will have more opportunities to be evaluated with more substantive feedback.
tryintosurvive February 28, 2013 at 03:11 AM
"irresponsibly preposterous notion of not increasing taxes" Oy vey
Regina Tuma April 08, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Carols, You write that you have heard tht MacCormack reforms will be good thing because it brings more opportunity for evaluations. Forgive me, but are my Montclair neighbors not up-to-date on educational reforms across the US and what these mean? Lot's of data out there. The burden is on Dr. P MAc to explain to our community how her version of reform will be different and in the spirit of Montclair School community. DO schools need imporivemtn? Always. What does it mean to teach today where information is readily available? These are questions true reofrmers should be asking!
Regina Tuma April 08, 2013 at 02:50 PM
If Dr P Mac's reform mean more testing--it means children become defacto HR tools. Increasingly, parents across the US are organizing against the reforms Dr P MAc is bringing to Montclair. Here is link to an article by one such parent. Very informative look at what happens down the road with these reforms that "sound" so good to many parents. http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/07/mom-why-i-wont-let-my-son-take-high-stakes-standardized-test/

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