Manchester's 2018 Teachers and Educational Service Professionals (ESP) of the Year were honored at the May 9, 2018 Board of Education meeting. The honorees were nominated by their peers at each school. Superintendent David Trethaway and Board of Education President Donald Webster, Jr. congratulated and thanked the honorees for their dedication to the children of Manchester.
BOE News & Reports
The total general fund budget is $54,110,272, the general fund local tax levy is $45,262,715 and debt service local tax levy is $2,786,444. Business Administrator Craig Lorentzen said that the annual local tax impact would be an increase of $36 per $100,000 of assessed home value, or $58 for the average township home assessment of $161,100.
MTMS Future Engineers have been very successful competing in a variety of engineering and robotics competitions throughout the year. Advisor, Maura Simister, and several of her students gave a presentation about their activities at the April Board of Education meeting.
Manchester Township School District enrollments are projected to be lower over the next five years, according to a five-year demographic study commissioned by the Board of Education.
We continue to monitor education related legislation and regulations that may impact Manchester. On the state level, the Legislature continued its focus on discussions related to the proposed state budget for 2018-2019. Recent news reports paint an ominous picture of the process with serious disagreements apparently occurring between the Governor and Legislative Leadership. It has been reported that the State Senate President threatened to shut down the government if certain issues (including school aid funding) are not adequately addressed in the budget. In addition, the Senate President has now introduced a bill that would further reduce Manchester's access to State School Aid in coming years. This proposal would place increased pressure on the district to maintain mandated programs and services for our students and will likely also have an adverse impact on our local property taxpayers. The state's current school funding formula continues to view Manchester as a wealthy community that does not need financial assistance from the state. This view flies in the face of various economic, social and demographic data and indicators that all show that Manchester is not a wealthy community. Manchester currently only receives about 10% of its school funding support from the state where the state average is closer to 40%.
Other recently introduced bills in the Legislature include A-1851, that would place further restrictions on or eliminate sick leave retirement payments to public workers including school employees and A-557 that would codify in statute nepotism policies that are already required under existing state regulations. Finally, bills that have been in process related to the installation of panic alarms in schools and mandatory participation in certain school meal programs have been sent to the Governor for his approval. Manchester currently participates in all school meal programs that we are eligible for. I would note that the panic alarm legislation that is proposed was opposed by the members of law enforcement who were part of the Governors Safe Schools Task Force that I served on in 2015. Concerns were raised over cost, access points for the buttons, and the concern that the proposal includes the installation of an emergency flashing light on the roof of the school building would make an already chaotic emergency response situation even more chaotic. Finally, a package of six bills related to gun control legislation has passed both houses and is also on its way to the Governor's desk for his action.
Manchester School District
Members of the BOE (Jen Hudak, Pat Barry & Melanie Biscardi) attended the Underclassmen (5/29) and Senior Class (5/31) award ceremonies where they distributed various recognition and scholarship awards to our deserving students. The events were very well attended by family, friends, relatives and our staff members. These events reinforced the position that we have many very talented and high achieving students in our school district!
NJ School Boards Association (NJSBA)
On 5/23, I chaired the Non-College Bound Student Learners Task Force meeting in Trenton. At this meeting, we heard reports from the chairs of each of the individual subcommittees on their research, findings, and recommendations related to their assigned tasks. We also shared and discussed the thoughts of the committee members regarding the overall theme(s) and recommendations related to the final report. We are now in the process of formally drafting the report of the task force. We hope to complete the final report by the end of the summer. Work has also continued on the drafting of the final report of School Security Task Force Update, which I also chair.
On 6/7, I participated in a Board of Trustees meeting. At this meeting we heard updates on the strategic plan, the finances of the organization, accomplishments that occurred during the past year, and planned upcoming events for the remainder of the current fiscal year. We also heard reports from our various Subcommittees and the Executive Director. Finally, we swore in and welcomed two new members to the Board of Trustees.
The next regular meeting of the Manchester Township Board of Education is tentatively scheduled to be held on July 18 at the Ridgeway Elementary School with the public portion of the meeting beginning at 7:30 PM.