Walkout, budget take center stage at BOE meeting
By ERIN ROLL
A pending school walkout in support of the Parkland school shooting victims and survivors was one of the most talked-about topics at Monday night's BOE meeting.
Interim Superintendent Barbara Pinsak said that the district could not release any details on how the schools intended to handle a walkout, only that the district had been working closely with the police, county officials and building principals.
Pinsak said that her office had received numerous phone calls and emails from parents. She said that the parents' opinions ran the gamut from having any student who took part in a walkout punished, to school staff actually leading the walkout. "Really the alpha to the omega," she said.
The audience members who spoke were divided in their opinions, with some being critical of a walkout and others being in support of it.
“The kids who are emailing me do not feel that it is a partisan decision. They feel it is a support for the Parkland 17, and they feel it is political empowerment for them," Pinsak said in response to some of the audience's remarks.
“I support whatever our students in our districts decide to do next (Wednesday)," said board member Joe Kavesh. "There’s no question that student safety is the most important thing that we have to keep in mind. Where was that student safety in Parkland on Feb. 14? Where was that student safety on Sandy Hook several years ago?"
The district also presented some preliminary information on the budget. The first draft of the budget includes a $115 million tax levy.
Business Administrator Emidio D'Andrea said that the budget in its current form has a $1.5 million deficit that must be made up. Some of the proposed savings for the budget may involve staff reductions in certain areas.
The district is waiting on state aid numbers, which are due to be released later this month, before finalizing much of the budget.
In light of the shooting in Parkland, the district is hoping to receive additional state aid to help with security upgrades at the schools. The capital ordinance request list includes $500,000 specifically for security projects.
This is a developing story. Follow Montclair Local for more information.