BAYONNE -- The city school board is discussing the employment of top school staff but does not plan to lay anyone off, board trustees recently told The Jersey Journal.
The confirmation from the trustees comes after at least 10 "rice notices" -- legally required letters informing employees that the board may discuss their employment status -- were issued last month to administrators and Central Office staff.
The notices were issued amid news that an internal audit by the board had discovered a $2 million deficit in the 2015-2016 school budget, the exact causes of which trustees say they are still figuring out.
The notices, which were obtained through an open public records request, appear to have been issued in two batches.
The first group of letters, dated Dec. 12 and signed by board president Joseph Broderick, were issued to Bayonne Superintendent of Schools Patricia McGeehan; board Secretary Gary Maita; Business Administrator Leo Smith; bookkeeper Laura Zielaznicki; and accountant Brian Buckley.
The second group, dated Dec. 15 and signed by McGeehan, were issued to Bayonne High School Athletics Director John Calcaterra; Midtown Community School Assistant Principal Michael Pierson; Assistant Supervisor of Technology Melissa Sisk; Director of Assessment, Evaluation, Federal and State Programs Alaina Desjardin; and Special Programs Supervisor Laura Craig.
As is usually the case with personnel matters, board discussions regarding the employees have only taken place in closed session, Broderick said during interviews with The Jersey Journal this week.
Broderick and board Vice President Denis Wilbeck told The Jersey Journal no action plans of any sort have been drawn up so far based on ongoing discussions.
"Nothing has been said at all that would be something anyone would have to worry about at this moment," Broderick said.
The board president noted that the board is taking its direction from Central Office -- which is led by McGeehan -- as to what employment adjustments, if any, might be made.
"We're basically leaving it up to Central Office to come back to us with their plan and what they think is best, and we'll start working from there," Broderick said, adding that he believes Central Office staff is best qualified for the task.
While the board has already passed a resolution reallocating millions of dollars set aside for capital improvements to fill the $2 million budget deficit, Broderick said the board's "Rice notice" discussions are expected to lead to cost savings that would further help the district.
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