Although the Borough of South River had some serious budget challenges of its own, the new Administration has gone above and beyond this year in an effort to help the South River Board of Education make improvements to their facilities to benefit all of the taxpayers and especially the children who use the schools on a daily basis.
The Borough and the Schools work together under a Shared Services Agreement that provides overall savings to local taxpayers by pooling the resources of each entity. “We save the School Board a ton of money every year,” stated South River Council President Shawn Haussermann. “We use our resources to plow their properties when snow falls. We provide trash pickup at no cost. We regularly provide fully prepped ball fields for student team use throughout the season. And, most important, the Borough’s Electric Utility provides a 67% discount to the schools’ electric demand bill, which is a huge savings.” In return, the Borough is permitted to use the Schools’ facilities, such as for Fireworks events and the Annual Bike Rodeo.
“I am also very proud to say that we were able to make some wonderful improvements to the High School property this year,” Haussermann continued. “Working through the Council-School Board Liaison Committee, we were able to fulfill the School Board’s request to install sidewalks on Morningside Avenue this year.” “I’m happy that we were able to direct some of the grant monies we received to pave Montgomery Street to put in that sidewalk and plant 16 new trees along Morningside,” said Councilman Jack Alai, the Council’s liaison to the school board. “Now the children walking to school every day have a safe, tree-lined sidewalk to walk on.”
Not everything is perfect between the School Board and the Council, however. “I was surprised at some of the requests they made of us this year,” said Councilman Alai. “They wanted us to pay to repair the Track at Denny Stadium and to repair the Tennis Courts at the High School,” he said. “They also asked for free electric demand for their properties. These were things we simply could not do. The whole idea of the Shared Services Agreement is to find overall savings for the taxpayers, not transfer maintenance and operating costs from their budget to the Borough’s.” Haussermann followed, “I was really shocked when the Board actually stated they wanted to charge our Recreation department for the use of Denny Stadium for the Fireworks on July 4th. I had to write them back in an email that the Shared Service Agreement does not allow for such charges. And I mentioned that if they wanted to make charging for facilities use the new process, then the Borough would have to charge them when they used our facilities. Thankfully, for the benefit of our taxpayers and their children, the Board backed down.”
And, in a stroke of luck for the School Board, our State Senator Pat Diegnan, along with our State Assembly representatives Nancy Pinkin and Rob Karabinchak, were able to provide a last minute boost to the State aid received by the schools this year. South River was to gain an additional $300,000 for their budget. “I hope that the School Board will use that money for the repairs necessary so that our children can use the track and the tennis courts safely, and so that they won’t have to fire any more teachers,” Haussermann said.