Montclair Board of School Estimate talks capital projects, budget
By ERIN ROLL
Monday night’s Board of School Estimate meeting was dedicated to a review of Montclair’s pending capital projects, and a discussion of district goals as the schools prepare for the 2019-2020 budget process.
As of Monday, district officials were awaiting architects’ reports for five school buildings: Charles H. Bullock, the field house, Edgemont, the central office and the Montclair Community Pre-K.
Only one school, Glenfield, is currently under repair after an inspection revealed damaged roof timbers, said Business Administrator Emidio D’Andrea. Stairwell repair at Nishuane has been temporarily fixed.
The other schools required small repairs that were able to be quickly addressed, he said.
The architects have divided Montclair’s projects into four categories: general construction, masonry repairs, building repairs, and the Watchung field overhaul, said D’Andrea.
The masonry projects are priority projects, D’Andrea said, as well as the Watchung field.
Mayor Robert Jackson said repairs on the Watchung heating/air conditioning system — an upgrade parents have repeatedly asked for — had begun. Crews were doing preliminary work at the school.
Watchung parent Selma Avdicevic thanked the board for giving an update on the Watchung HVAC repairs, but said she was concerned that the overhaul of Watchung Field would result in a reduction in size of the Watchung school playground. She said she had heard that the playground may lose 30 feet and two pieces of equipment because of the expansion.
D’Andrea responded that the district would have to look at the plans for the field.
Monday night’s meeting did not include any actual numbers related to the district’s budget, including an anticipated tax levy. But Superintendent Kendra Johnson delivered a presentation on what items the district wanted to address including: curriculum, a safe school environment for both children and staff, public communication improvements, more efficiency with central office, and an increase with community involvement.
Montclair Education Association president Petal Robertson urged the district to look into hiring more student assistance counselors. Other members of the audience urged the district to look into hiring more paraprofessionals. Johnson said the district was looking into both items.
Parent Debbie Villareal Hadley suggested that with Montclair school taxes being so high, the board look at state’s school funding formula. Many families move away as soon as their children have graduated due to the high taxes, she said.
Jackson said the state determines how much aid a school district gets.
It was originally expected that Montclair would learn its state aid amount on March 6. But D’Andrea said the state may not actually release aid numbers until March 13.