Hopatcong School District – Single Issue Meeting Primer – Difficult State Budget Cuts

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The Borough of Hopatcong School District Superintendents, Mr. Arthur DiBenedetto, and Mr. Joseph S. Piccirillo provided the following important overview of the upcoming Single Issue Meeting and the dramatic drop in State Aid for the schools next year.

Primer for the Single Issue Meeting:

Hopatcong School District Superintendent, Mr. Arthur DiBenedetto called this one of the most important Single Issue meetings and hopes for a large turnout at the school gym.

Single Issue Meeting:

HSD 03 08 2021 Video 1Topic: Reopening the Schools to Full-time daily schedule.

Date: March 120, 2021

Time: 6:30 PM

Location: High School Gym

Streaming Link: https://youtu.be/cmfUoYdpOwA

Questions: Virtual participants may send in questions by emailing them to Assistant Superintendent Joseph Piccirillo at jpiccirillo@hopatcongschools.org.

The above video gives you an important primer on what will be discussed at the live meeting.

  • Decision Process that included Principles, Teachers, Parents & Students.
  • 100% Virtual or In-School Attendance.
  • The movement to a full day of school.
    • Examples of the key issues that have been resolved:
        • Social Distancing during Lunch
        • Recess/Gym
        • Practicable Social Distancing
    • Beneficial Trends:
      • Return to Yellow COVID Status.
      • Warmer Weather allows for outdoor lunch seating.
      • Teachers / School Employees are now eligible for Vaccination.
  • The proposed Start Date for Full Days will be based upon three consecutive weeks in the COVID Yellow (moderate) stage.

Superintendent, Mr. Arthur DiBenedetto thanked the Board, Teachers, and Parents for their assistance over the last year. “Our teaching staff has risen to the occasion and did things never thought possible. I’m immensely proud of our staff and the unions involved, as we continue our open door communications policy.”

Difficult State Budget Cuts:

Once again, the State has doubled the cut in aid to the Hopatcong School District, which is creating a budgeting issue for the 2021/22 school year.

 

State Proposed

 

School Year

Aid Reduction %

Aid Reduction $

Actual Reduction

2019 – 20

13%

$1,149,326

-

2020 – 21

10%

$884,097

$1,700,000

2021 – 22

14%

$1,237,736

$2,156,000

2022 – 23

18%

$1,591,375

TBD

2023 – 24

21%

$1,856,604

TBD

2024 – 25

24%

$2,121,834

TBD

 

According to reporting by NJ Herald, the Hopatcong School District will see the biggest cut in Sussex County, with state aid projected to go from $7.93 million in the current year to $5.77 million next year. The decrease of more than 27% would be the fifth-highest decline among all districts in the state. 

HSD 03 08 2021 Video 2“For the second year in a row, the State has doubled the amount cut from our aid. We knew were going to be cut based upon the state’s 5-year state plan. We’ve used those numbers to draw up strategic plans for the district and our budget. These additional cuts put us in reactionary mode every year.” Stated, Assistant Superintendent Mr. Joseph S. Piccirillo.

Superintendent, Mr. Arthur DiBenedetto outlined the difficult decisions that need to be made on School Resources, “Many people have given their lives to the education of kids, and now some of them may lose their job. We have already shaved our administrative staff by 50%, we just cannot do that with our teachers.  There are not many places left in the budget to cut and still fulfill our educational responsibilities to the kids.”

Additionally, the special programs (like the Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses) that were started as part of the 5-year strategy are now also at risk.

Superintendent, Mr. Arthur DiBenedetto summarized the budgeting challenge, “We will keep doing what we can from our side to improve the schools within our budget. While our district is one of the hardest hit, this problem is statewide, and it’s bound to affect taxes in the future if the State doesn’t correct their funding of K-12 schools.”


 

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