Assemblyman Ronald Dancer addresses a crowd of nearly 150 people at Wednesday’s School Board Meeting

CHESTERFIELD, NJ –

The reality of being the lowest funded district in the Garden State set in tonight as layoffs and program cuts were announced at Chesterfield Elementary School.

The Chesterfield School Board presented their 2017-2018 School Budget Wednesday night in the library to a huge crowd of nearly 150 parents, residents, and educators.

In writing next year’s budget, the school board was faced with a $500,000 deficit, due, in part, to inadequate state funding. The state still uses a 2008 Act signed by then-Governor Corzine.

According to Chesterfield Superintendent Heino, in 2008, Chesterfield had around 400 students. In the 9 years since, Chesterfield has nearly doubled in size to 777, but the school is still getting the same amount of funding as if the school still had 400 students. According to board officials, Chesterfield now receives 9.5% of what it should based on the 2008 Act.

In total, 7 positions were cut from next year’s school budget. 5 paraprofessionals, who often work with special needs students, were laid off, and will likely be replaced with workers from the company Insight, who the school does not pay benefits. This will save the school $150,000.

Additionally, there will not be an instrumental program at Chesterfield next year, and the part-time music instructor will be laid off. This will save Chesterfield around $50,000.

There will be no library instruction in the 2017-18 school year. The part-time Media Center Aid will not return, and the school librarian position is now part-time.

Other cuts include not replacing an aging copier, no new science kits (which would have been around $20,000), and only $50,000 being in the emergency fund.

At tonight’s meeting were Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, and NJ Senator Sam Thompson. Dancer addressed the crowd, praising the residents and educators for coming out the meeting. He also spoke with WBNC NEWS after the meeting. “We know the importance of Chesterfield, and being the lowest funded school district in the state of New Jersey.”

Dancer told WBNC about a one-on-one meeting with representatives from Governor Christie’s office and Kimberley Harrington of NJ Department of Education on May 4th. Representing Chesterfield will be Mayor Jeremy Liedtka, Superintendent Scott Heino, School Board President Jignesh Shah, and Board Vice-President Peggy Hallion.

​School Superintendent Scott Heino said on the lack of state funding, “[It’s] a tough way to run a school district… I always think of how much more we could do [with funding].”

WBNC NEWS learned about an upcoming Town Hall Forum which will be “very open” where anyone can speak to school board representatives. No date is set for this event yet.

WBNC NEWS recorded the meeting including many public comments. We will be posting that video tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon.