Butler School Budget Approved With No Staff Cuts
District happy to add personnel, programs.
The Butler Board of Education adopted a resolution to approve its 2012-13 budget on Monday night after holding a public hearing at its meeting.
This year’s total budget figure is $20,756,322, up about $624,000 from last year’s budget for a 3.1 percent increase. This increase will give the average homeowner a $125 property tax increase in the coming year, when factoring in the district’s debt service.
“The budget is what powers (the district) and makes the machine of our district go,” said Superintendent of Schools Mario Cardinale. “It is critical.”
The increase in budget gives the district room to not only prevent staff reductions in the coming year, but to create new positions within the district. These include seven half-day and four full-day positions districtwide in a variety of disciplines in all three schools—Aaron Decker, Richard Butler and Butler High Schools.
Representatives of the district seemed very pleased with the fact that the district finds itself in a position to add personnel while not reducing any of its current staff.
“I have never gotten to stand here and say ‘There are no reductions in staff,’” School Business Administrator Debra Naley-Minenna said during the budget presentation.
“We’re also looking at a fourth section of grade three to keep the numbers in a very good, very manageable position,” Cardinale noted. “We’re not back to the staffing level where we were three years ago, but we’ve made some progress.”
The district also looks forward to the chance to reinstate some of the programs that have gone by the wayside due to budget cuts in recent years. Among those returning are the boys and girls basketball program at Richard Butler School and the Mock Trial program at Butler High School.
“If you can think back on past budgets, the board many times said if and when we’re fortunate enough to reinstate this activity, that position, they would do so,” Cardinale said. “I think this is indicative of the board keeping faith with the community.”
Other initiatives the district hopes to implement in the coming year include a districtwide expansion of the Achieve 300 reading program, the hiring of an NJ SMART specialist and improvements to the guidance department. Cardinale also mentioned that improvements to the Language Arts program will continue to be made, including a program which will train English and Language Arts teachers in Grades K-10 on new developments in the teaching of Language Arts-based subjects.
Cardinale was excited at the possibility of possibly sharing the cost of this program with Bloomingdale and Riverdale in shared services agreements. The three districts have been meeting to see if such an agreement can be reached.
“Bloomingdale shows tremendous interest in sharing the cost of the program with us on a per capita basis, so we could have Bloomingdale and Butler teaching (the) same curriculum for reading and writing in grades K-8,” Cardinale said. “That would be a Godsend to us, long-term, and certainly would be one of the things that both districts could be proud of. We may be able to realize some savings through that shared service between the three districts.”
In the end, Cardinale and the rest of the school district and board of education believe that the district will go a long way into helping the students of Butler continue to grow.
“That’s where the power, and that’s where the resource goes: into young people,” Cardinale said.
The public will not have the opportunity to vote on the budget since the school district opted to eliminate a budget vote and move school board member elections to November.