Bayonne BOE OKs $154.8M with 1% tax increase, hires emergency response coordinator

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The Bayonne Board of Education okayed the final $154,839,001 budget, which comes with a one percent tax increase, for the 2021-2022 scholastic year, as well as hiring an emergency response and crisis coordinator for the first time at last night’s meeting.

The one percent increase brings the tax levy up to $70,451,920, with the total budget up $697,544 from the previous year.

The spending plan was approved by a vote of 8-1, with Trustee Jody Casais voting no, after a brief presentation by School Business Administrator Dan Castles.

As for the emergency response and crisis coordinator position, former Deputy Police Chief Walter Rogers, who retired last year, will be appointed effective May 1st for one year.

His compensation will be a $65,000 salary, with a $5,279 stipend for being armed personnel. The position is brand new for the school district and does not exist anywhere else in the state, officials said.

The hire went through by a narrow vote of 5-4, with Trustees Casais, Ava Finnerty, Christopher Munoz, and Maria Valado voting no.

“Although the applicant is commendable, I think that with the layer of administration that we have here, the fact that the City of Bayonne has an OEM director as is – that would supersede the board’s OEM director – in time of crisis, crisis management,” Munoz, the board vice president, said prior to his vote.

“We have a superintendent who has a background in law enforcement and homeland security, I think he’s more than capable of handling this job.”

Valado, the board president, said that this money could be better spent during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially considering the board just hired five other armed personnel, ultimately calling it “a waste of money.”

“This position is a $65,000 position and coming back in September, we could use that $65,000 for so many other things,” she began.

“We have a superintendent who we picked because of his security background, we have ex-police officers in almost every single school already that are there, we have a head of security who takes care of all those police officers and he is excellent – he is also an ex-police officer … I do not believe we need this position, I believe it’s a waste of money.”