Editor's Note: This is the first of an ongoing series of guest columns from Schools Superintendent James Crisfield on topics important to the Millburn school community. Crisfield has pledged he'll be checking the comments on these columns to add input if he can.
Since the new year is now upon us, it makes sense for my first column to be focused on what is a favorite topic across the state at this time of year — the upcoming school budget discussions and deliberations.
The first draft of Millburn's proposed 2011-12 school budget will be unveiled at the Jan. 10 board of education meeting, beginning at 7:45 p.m. at Hartshorn Elementary School. Much work has been done already to get things organized in a way we feel will help everyone involved — professional and lay person alike — make informed decisions about what is being proposed, understand the hard choices that will no doubt have to be made and assess the impact of those decisions on our community's schools. January 10 will be a big picture overview with details to come in following meetings, including on Jan. 24.
I can't discuss in these columns any specifics about a board discussion topic until after the school board first discusses it, but I can tell you that this year's budget process will be very difficult, much like last year's was. That is why it is all the more important for people to be informed and to get involved.
Over the next three months, we will show exactly where money is coming from and what we propose to spend it on. As we struggle to balance the budget, as every district will do this year, we will portray the options available as clearly and fairly as we can.
Maybe this column and responses to it can help us understand how we can get better at that as the weeks go by. Some of the difficult decisions made in order to balance the budget will not be popular in all camps and our reasons for them may be disputed, but it is our hope that the process at least turns out to be as clear as possible.