In what was widely seen as a peace offering to the local teachers’ union, the West New York Board of Education approved a $136.6 million budget with an 8 percent tax increase – representing an additional $850,000 that was not a part of the introduced budget.
The board was voting yay or nay or an $850,000 tax levy increase that would go towards unemployment benefits ($150,000) and terminal leave payouts ($750,000), which School Business Administrator Dean Austin again explained last night.
The budget was initially voted down at the April 28th hearing. Board President Adam Parkinson commended Finance Committee Chair Jonathan Castaneda for getting everyone on the same page.
Superintendent of Schools Clara Brito Herrera, who has taken a lot of heat in the midst of these tense contract negotiations, said the fact that she is willing to support raising taxes in the town she lives shows her commitment to the district’s teachers.
Prior to the vote, Castaneda explained that if the board again rejected the budget, they’d be leaving $600,000 on the table.
The budget passed by a unanimous vote (7-0), with Trustee Dennise Mejia again absent.
Afterwards, Trustee Steven Rodas said that while he is happy the district is moving in the right direction, it’s time to start getting serious about a three- to five-year business plan so budgetary problems aren’t an annual issue.