Teaneck Mulls Outsourcing, Busing Cuts
District would save $800,000 through proposed outsourcing, according to revised budget.
Teaneck’s school board is mulling a revised spending plan that includes outsourcing lunchroom and some classroom aides, axing two administrative positions and cuts to courtesy busing.
Under the $91.9 million proposed school budget detailed Monday night, the district aims to save $800,000 by outsourcing 27 of the 68 instructional paraprofessionals mostly with less than three years of experience, all 46 district lunchroom aides and an untold amount of substitute teachers, according to Business Administrator Robert Finger.
Eliminating the two administrative positions would save $205,000, either through retirements or other cuts, Finger said. Upping the requirement for busing students from 0.9 to 1.3 miles is projected to save $100,000.
If approved, the change would leave 133 students in pre-K through fourth grade no longer eligible for courtesy busing, Finger said.
The district is also looking to save about $95,000 by using fewer busses to transport non-public school students through adjusting routes, Finger said.
Salaries made up more than half of the spending plan at $47.2 million.
The possibility of outsourcing school staffers was met with widespread opposition from parents and educators at the school board's meeting.
Susan Nierenberg, a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, praised the work of district paraprofessionals.
"I know that money is a major problem now, but I think that there's got to be a better way rather than outsourcing [paraprofessionals]," she told the school board.
Some parents who spoke questioned why the district was exploring outsourcing while spending in other areas. About 200 people, including many district teachers, packed the special board meeting.
"One of the things I know is that you get what you pay for," one parent said.
Bryant School Teacher Iris Hernandez raised concerns about the quality of staff from an outside firm.
Schools Superintendent Barbara Pinsak said the district would be able to fully vet and manage staffers brought in through outsourcing. Proposals for the outsourcing were expected Thursday and more specifics of the plan were not immediately available.
The updated budget presented Monday has a $78.1 million tax levy, about $1 million less than the preliminary budget introduced late last month. The initial version carried a 2 percent tax levy increase.
The latest budget brings a $27.67 tax increase, down from the $120 increase first released.
School officials were anticipating a $173,357 increase in state aid, but figures released by the Christie Administration last week left Teaneck with only $99,845. Total funding from Trenton ended up at $5.19 million. The district planned to dip into its surplus to make up for the gap in state funds.
Finger, the business administrator, said reductions in state aid over recent years forced the district to consider cuts. The district was working to keep taxes low and avoid hitting the 2 percent increase, he added.
"The real problem is that the state of New Jersey is not giving this district or most districts the state aid that they should be getting," he said.
While the budget will head to the county’s school superintendent, Finger said he expected changes to be made before being adopted March 27.