North Warren Regional School District Reduction in Force Statement
The last 4 years involved much uncertainty and apprehension over the looming loss of $4 million to our district’s total budget from Senate Bill 2 (S2) State Aid reductions. The North Warren Regional Board of Education’s recent actions to reduce several positions, including an administrator, were caused by S2’s severe financial impact. These reductions are only one example of what the hundreds of “S2 districts” are experiencing, and not the first hard cuts our Board was forced to make. In fact, the Vice Principal position eliminated is one of 38 personnel position reductions made over the last 7 years. The impact of S2 is devastating districts like ours.
When it first learned that S2 would take $4 million away from the district, the Board knew that eventually reductions caused by the law would affect the “heart” of our school. Sadly, the several reductions caused this year are felt hard throughout our community.
You will recall that the Board of Education proposed two referendums during two prior elections that would have increased the district’s revenue and provided some relief from the S2 State Aid reductions. Sadly, these referendums failed at the ballot box.
We have taken a deliberate and careful approach to these reductions over the last several years, always considering the impact on student instruction to protect the educational experience of every student as much as possible. Throughout this process, it is our practice to notify staff who may be impacted a year in advance. We make sure no one is surprised so our staff, who we care about deeply, are able to make plans and prepare for the possibility of a reduction. The reductions approved this week were not the first, and sadly, will not be the last caused by the state funding changes. The $4 million taken from North Warren under S2 amounts to 25% of our total budget. Again, we were forced to eliminate 38 positions due to these reductions.
The Board and the Administration appreciate and echo the kind words of support spoken on behalf of those whose positions are reduced in next year’s budget. Our educators, and our dedicated volunteer Board of Education members, work hard to put the interests of our students first, doing more today with fewer resources, virtually re-imagining public education overnight to continue delivering excellent educational services during COVID19. We still live under challenging restrictions imposed by COVID19. This year is one of the most difficult in our lives. Our students and staff continue to suffer trauma and loss. We see that trauma and plan to continue to provide support through our school counseling department and through our instructional staff.
Sadly absent from the recent comments online is recognition of our students’ achievements and the tireless and creative work of our educators during these extraordinary times. Our Patriots deserve to know that our school is great and that great students, great teachers, and great administrators make it great. Despite the almost incomprehensible changes recently faced, together we accomplished the following:
This year North Warren students attained the highest average SAT score in Warren County.
Three North Warren graduating seniors were accepted into Ivy League universities one from last year’s graduating class and two from this year’s class.
North Warren was again ranked the highest-rated high school in Warren County by U.S. News & World Reports. This is our third consecutive year to receive this distinction.
Each year, the State Board of Education recognizes one noteworthy student or student group from each of 10 counties, including Warren County. This year, two North Warren student programs were nominated. The first program involved six North Warren psychology students who courageously presented a panel during a teacher professional development day about the challenges of being a teen during a pandemic. The second was our North Warren Robotics Team who used our North Warren 3D printers to produce 3,000 face shields and 5,000 ear savers to distribute to people in need.
North Warren students received the most total days of on-site instruction of any high school in Warren County, despite public health limits, due to the tenacity of our staff and students.
A North Warren High School student was accepted to the Governor’s School of Engineering & Technology Summer Program at Rutgers University, and another student was chosen to participate in the Warren County School Boards Association 8th Grade Dialogue taking place virtually this spring.
We encourage the community to continue to advocate loudly for our district to those in Trenton who have a role in school funding legislation. The district is currently working with districts in Burlington and Sussex counties to support a pending House Bill, EDU 0876, and with Senator Oroho’s office on his sponsored bill. Both bills would reinstate the $950,000 we lost this year.
The Board heard the requests for an in-person Board of Education meeting. We will be scheduling meetings for the remainder of the year in-person and on-site in North Warren Regional High School’s gymnasium. These meetings will also be livestreamed. Details including the link to view the livestream will be forthcoming. It is our hope that this additional step toward normalcy will create an atmosphere where civility and normal discourse can resume.
Despite these losses, together we will continue the important work of providing excellent educational services to our Patriots.