Budget and School Calendar Changes On Agenda This Week
Also, the Bernards Planning Board's final review of Quarry Rehabilitation Plan begins this Tuesday.
The Bernards Township school board has two big topics on the agenda for Monday night: introducing the 2013-14 school budget, now that the school district has learned it will receive the same state aid as last year, and also the final adoption of a revised school calendar next year.
The board is scheduled to discuss the introduced budget at a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Ridge High School Performing Arts Center, 268 S. Finley Ave. in Basking Ridge.
State aid figures for next year were released on Thursday by the N.J. Department of Education, when the school district learned that Bernards schools will receive $3,057,466 in aid, equal to that the 2012-13 school year.
A public hearing and final vote on whether to adopt the budget is scheduled for March 28 at a school board meeting also to be held at the Ridge PAC.
A final school board vote on whether to approve or further change previously proposed changes to the 2013-14 school calendar also is scheduled for Monday's meeting.
The draft calendar, which school officials said could be revised again before final adoption, would set Sept. 9, 2013, as the first day of the school year, and June 20 as the last.
The biggest changes were with the week off in February, and the rescheduling of the April spring recess. The Bernards school district now is the only school system in Somerset County to schedule school off for two full weeks instead of one in the second half of the year, according to a chart presented by Superintendent Nick Markarian.
The draft calendar schedules two days off next Feb. 17 to 18, instead of Feb. 24 to 28.
The April vacation has been rescheduled for April 7 to 11, instead of April 18, Good Friday, through April 25 in the previously adopted calendar. Good Friday remains a holiday on either calendar.
Schools Board Member Beverly Cwerner, who heads the board's policy committee, said the April holiday had been moved up to earlier in the month to make the week off about halfway between the winter holiday and the proposed end of the school year.
Another extra day was saved by canceling the scheduled holiday for Martin Luther King's birthday on Jan. 20.
Cwerner said that coming up with a new school calendar that met educational requirements and other criteria had been challenging.
"It became clear that no decision was going to please everyone," Cwerner said at last month's meeting.
Markarian said the revised calendar also took into account the results of an online survey completed by 2,092 township parents, 333 juniors and seniors and 555 staff members in the school district. Contractual obligations also helped shape the calendar, he said.
The initial printed version of the draft had students starting school on Sept. 3, 2013, the Tuesday following Labor Day.
However, Markarian said that teachers had never been asked before to report back for an in-service day in August prior to Labor Day, which falls this year on Sept. 2.
He said some teachers had other obligations through Labor Day since the 2013-14 school calendar had been adopted about two years ago, in December 2010.
Markarian indicated he did not think it was a good idea for students to begin school on a Wednesday, have Thursday scheduled for a day off as the Rosh Hashanah holiday, and then return on Friday for the first week. So the proposed start date was moved back to Sept. 9, although school officials said it could be discussed again before the board's final vote.
Planning Board's to begin final deliberations on Millington Quarry
Meanwhile, following 15 months of hearings, the Bernards Township Planning Board — with a reduced number of members eligible to vote — are scheduled to begin deliberating on Tuesday whether to recommend that the Bernards Township Committee should approve the Millington Quarry's application for a closure plan as presented.
The Millington Quarry's plan for how 180 acres or so on Bernards' eastern border would be rehabilitated for future use after quarrying stops received a first look before the Planning Board in November 2011.
The case before the Planning Board finally rested on Jan. 31, following many long evenings filled with detailed testimony, expert witnesses, detailed reports and questions — lots of questions — from the Planning Board and also the public.
The board is scheduled to begin deliberating on the case at the next meeting on March 5. The board only votes whether to recommend whether the Township Committee should approve the latest closure plan for the quarry. In 2008, the Township Committee never approved the last plan — which must be updated every three years — although the Planning Board had recommended its passage.
Two Planning Board members who were members throughout the latest quarry hearings, Ann Parsekian, who also presided over many of the quarry hearings, and Richard Huckins, were replaced in January with new members who will not be eligible to vote. However, officials said there should be a sufficient number of members eligible to pass along a recommendation.
Although the deliberations are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, that does not mean the board will vote that night, officials said previously.
Other meetings coming up this week:
- The Bernards Township Municipal Alliance Against Substance Abuse is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Board of Health building, 262 S. Finley Ave., Basking Ridge.
- The Bernards Township Board of Adjustment is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Bernards Township municipal complex, 1 Collyer Lane, Basking Ridge.
- The Bernards Deer Management Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the first floor conference room at the municipal complex at 1 Collyer Lane.