Dear Hackettstown and Great Meadows Regional School community members,
There have been many happenings throughout the State of New Jersey that have directly impacted our districts. For the past several years, my office has publicly discussed how Hackettstown was severely underfunded in state aid, while Great Meadows was overfunded. In light of the recent changes to the S2 bill, Hackettstown will see a dramatic increase to state aid, while Great Meadows will suffer a dramatic decrease. Each district will now face its own set of both positive and negative financial impact and challenges.
In Hackettstown, the district has used some of the already provided state aid by way of hiring staff and the HVAC inspection at the Willow Grove School. The early estimate for HVAC completion prior to installation at Willow Grove School was one million dollars. Unfortunately, Central Office has found that early estimate to be only a preliminary estimate with other costs being added in for a more accurate final estimate. Moreover, going into the 2019-2020 budget development cycle, district administration will create a personnel/program prioritization list to be supplemented with future state aid.
In addition to gaining financial assistance from the state department, the Hackettstown Board of Education has determined the timing is appropriate to advocate for a ballot question to extend the district’s debt service. In the future, Ms. Woicekowski, our district’s Business Administrator, will engage the municipality and community, by hosting special meetings for cost analysis, and discussions that explore the strong need to renovate and upgrade district facilities, as this is where the appropriated funds will be utilized.
Unfortunately in Great Meadows, the drastic proposed cut of near 3.7 million dollars could potentially cause closure of one of our facilities. At the August 28th public Board of Education meeting, conversations began about this concern and potential of future loss. The Board of Education, along with Central Office, has begun the discovery process in looking to either “MOTHBALL” Central School or to “MOTHBALL” Liberty School.
If you recall, Liberty School was part of last year’s Feasibility Study as a potential option due to the drastic decline in enrollment. Should the Board of Education determine a Liberty School closure is in the best interest of the district, then Central School would become a PK-3 facility and GMMS a 4-8 facility, which will include a separate wing for the 4th and 5th grades. If it’s determined a Central School closure is in the best interest of the district, then Liberty School will become a PK-4 facility and Great Meadows
Middle School a 5-8 facility. As of today, no decision has been made, but rest assured more information will come forward following the New Year and the Governor’s future State Aid allocations. This will not be an easy decision, nor an easy feat. We will be looking closely at options that will be the most beneficial to our district and students as a whole.
I am pleased to inform you that the Hackettstown School District will be implementing its first ever inclusive Pre-School program which will be located at the Hatchery Hill School. Please go to our district website to view Mrs. Gesumaria’s November 14th presentation to the Board of Education and public and contact Mrs. Gesumaria’s office directly should you have any questions or concerns. I also encourage you to schedule a site visit in the Great Meadows Central School with Principal, Mr. Mai, to observe the daily happenings of the Pre-School program which was created and implemented at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
Wishing you all health and happiness for the upcoming Holiday Season and New Year.
David C. Mango
Superintendent of Schools