Security, staffing, field upgrades discussed at budget talks
By ERIN ROLL
Security upgrades and field renovations came up for discussion at Monday night's Board of School Estimate meeting, along with the question of which staff positions may be cut.
The board held the first of three hearings on the budget that evening.
For security, the budget intends to include $857,316 in total, up from $820,518 the year before. The district is working with the police on reviewing its security protocols and infrastructure, especially in light of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14.
"If there is a need for [more], we'll find it, I'm sure," said Councilman Bill Hurlock. "We'll have to."
In addition to Fortunato Field and Woodman Field, the district intends to do renovations at Watchung Field and the playing field at Renaissance.
Regarding Fortunato Field and Woodman Field, Business Administrator Emidio D'Andrea said that he had received a large number of emails from the public to look into using materials other than rubber infill for the new surfaces. D'Andrea said that the district was considering what options would be feasible. "But anything we do will be in the best interests of our stands and the athletes in the district," he said.
Mayor Robert Jackson said that the upgrade of the Washington Field on Baldwin Street - a joint project between Montclair, Essex County and the Borough of Glen Ridge - had used cork. He said that while cork was somewhat more expensive to install, it was not as expensive to maintain and it weathered well during the winter.
The Montclair Education Association has been concerned about the prospect of staff cuts, especially cuts that may affect the district's paraprofessionals. The cuts at this time include six teachers, 10 paraprofessionals, one administrator and two secretaries. D'Andrea said after the meeting that the district has not specified at which schools the cuts will be made.
The budget intends to set aside $617,000 in the event that those positions need to be refilled at any point during the school year.
The next budget hearing will be held on Thursday, April 12. The budget is scheduled to be adopted on April 19.
This is a developing story. Follow the Montclair Local for more information.