The Tabernacle board of education discussed various agenda items during its recent meeting on Sept. 19, including possible approval of a new SRO (School Resource Officer), cancellation of the 2022-’23 school field hockey season and stabilization aid from the state.
During the session, members unanimously approved an application from the district for the aid, in light of the school system’s reduction in state aid funding in recent years.
“The Tabernacle Township School District is experiencing, and will continue to experience, financial distress, as a structural deficit has developed due to the reduction in state school aid with the implementation of Chapter Law 67 (known as S-2), whereby our state school aid has been reduced by $2,412,416 since 2018-’19,” a district resolution read.
“Our already fiscally challenged district is facing another reduction in state aid for 2023-’24, which is projected to be $353,202 … and such state-aid reductions cannot be fully made up for through the required 2 percent tax levy increase, nor by any significant reductions in expenses.”
According to Business Administrator Patricia Palmieri, any district that has seen reduced state aid funding in recent years is eligible to apply for funds. Tabernacle has applied for $178,523 for the current school year.
“This is a very intricate application,” Palmieri said. “It took about two weeks to put together and it will be reviewed by (the state) with a fine-tooth comb. We hope to get some money for the [School Resource Officer] position, for some planned teaching positions that we’ve had to go over budget for, and for increased security measures that we hope to implement if possible.”
During public comment, School Superintendent Shaun Banin responded to a public comment requesting additional information on the district’s current SRO search, for which Banin said there is still an RFP (Request for Proposal) on the district website. Since Tabernacle is within the jurisdiction of the state police – which cannot have SROs – its district is pursuing a contract with private security for a single SRO who will serve both Kenneth R. Olson Middle School and Tabernacle Elementary.
“Right now, we’re looking to see ultimately if we could get an armed security person that would be able to work in both buildings for the district,” Banin noted. “[They] would be with the district full time, but between both buildings, and as of right now, we have nothing.
“ … We’ve exhausted all options with the state police, the county and the state … ” he added. “This (a security person) is what was recommended in our region.”
According to Banin, the hope is that the SRO position would be filled at some point this school year, depending on how much funding and when comes through the state stabilization aid.
In other news:
- The district voted to rescind the appointment of a field hockey coach for the 2022-’23 school year, as not enough kids expressed interest to field a team. Banin said the district will try to offer the sport again next year.
- Tabernacle Elementary Assistant Principal Mellisa Gallagher gave a presentation on the district’s 2021-’22 NJSLA (New Jersey Student Learning Assessments) Tabernacle Township Data Results, comparing figures with the state’s 2021-’22 average and from the most recent year data was available from within the district.