Committee identifies$1.2 million in cuts

Field upgrade, ice hockey,

volleyball face elimination
By:Alec Moore
   The Township Committee is looking at cutting the school district’s $81 million school budget — rejected by voters on April 16 — by $1.2 million.
   The proposed cuts were discussed by the committee during a special work session Tuesday.
   Among the items the committee is considering doing away with are the $400,000 synthetic athletic field at Hillsborough High School, new volleyball and ice hockey sports programs at the high school, middle school track, $50,000 worth of new computers and accessories and four administrative positions — with salaries totaling $153,000.
   The committee also is considering cutting the district’s legal expenses in half, from $500,000 to $250,000.
   Plans to eliminate three new teaching positions — at $33,071 for each — were pulled from the committee’s tentative list of recommended cuts.
   "I feel uncomfortable cutting teachers," said Mr. Gelardi, whose sentiments were echoed by Mr. Gwiazdowski. Both committee members indicated that cutting teachers would have a significant impact on class sizes, negatively impacting the quality of education.
   Mayor Joseph Tricarico emphasized that he was extremely disappointed in the lack of insight and cooperation offered by school officials in pinpointing areas of the budget that could be done away with or held off until next year.
   The mayor, along with Second Deputy Mayor Sonya Martin, met with Superintendent Robert Gulick and school board members on April 29 to review the budget.
   The mayor noted on Tuesday that he had previously expressed to school officials that the committee wanted to trim the budget by 4 to 5 percent, but was told by school officials that a 4 to 5 percent cut would impact the quality of education.
   "I have to express my frustration with the board for not pointing us in the right direction," the mayor said. "They were less than cooperative." The $1.2 million in cuts proposed by the committee, represents a 4 to 5 percent cut, however, and Mayor Tricarico does not believe educational quality has been sacrificed.
   Dr. Gulick, school board President Lou Possemato and School Business Administrator Tom Venanzi — who were in attendance at the meeting — remained stone faced throughout the work session, which was not open for public input.
   Reached Wednesday for comment on the cuts, Mr. Possemato said he felt the mayor’s comments were "a little off the mark."
   "We answered their questions for over two hours," he added.
   The school officials will have their opportunity to voice their feelings publicly on the proposed cuts on May 14, when the committee is slated to vote on the matter.
   The budget must be finalized and submitted to the county superintendent by May 20.