Montclair schools to get slight increase in state aid
By ERIN ROLL
Montclair Public Schools will get a bit more state aid for 2017-18 than last year, but not much.
On Friday, July 14, the state Department of Education released revised state aid numbers to each of the state’s 556 school districts. The preliminary state aid numbers had been released in March.
Montclair will be getting a total of $6,891,951 in state aid, according to a data spreadsheet issued by the DOE. That figure is $28,883 over what it received for the 2016-17 school year, or a .4 percent increase in aid.
The revised numbers were presented after the adoption of the state budget in July.
However, on Monday, Board President Laura Hertzog said that she had been informed, following discussions with the district’s central office, that Montclair would actually be receiving an additional $32,000 in aid. Hertzog and Interim Superintendent Barbara Pinsak later confirmed that the district had initially been informed that it would be receiving an additional $32,000, but that the spreadsheet contained the finalized aid numbers.
Neither Hertzog nor Pinsak offered any theory as to why they were given an erroneous figure.
The aid numbers come at a time when districts try to calculate how much breakage — money saved from staff retirements and resignations at the end of the year — they have. This year, the subject of staff hiring has taken on new urgency in Montclair, after the district announced plans to eliminate 30 teaching positions and 50 paraprofessional positions around the schools.
In February, then-Interim Superintendent Ronald Bolandi urged the board to hire new staff members whenever possible, using savings resulting from breakage.
Hertzog said it was too soon to determine if the district would be able to hire new staff through the breakage and the state aid.
How the neighbors did
Some of Montclair’s neighboring districts got more generous boosts to their state aid, according to the DOE spreadsheet. According to the revised figures, Glen Ridge received an additional $75,516, bringing its allotment to $856,408, a 9.67 percent raise. Millburn received an additional $246,371, which brought its state aid to $2,287,588. Bloomfield received an additional $1,962,348, which brought its state aid allotment to $23,020,310.
Although all Essex County districts received an increase in aid, not all districts throughout the state will be getting more aid for 2017-2018. Some will receive the same amount, and others less.
Districts receiving an increase in state aid were given two options for the use of the money: to provide property tax relief or to increase their spending on budget line items for 2017-2018.