Clark Board of Education cuts freshman athletic teams

CLARK, NJ — Clark’s school budget will not fund freshman baseball, basketball and football for the 2017-2018 school year, a decision made at the July 26 BOE meeting.

Clark Board of Education member Robert Smorol discussed the difficulties the school has encountered with a lack of state funding and assured those present that the board had done its best to make accommodations.

“Freshmen will be able to play on the J.V. teams,” Smorol said at the meeting. “We know that the numbers will be relaxed a bit to offer as much participation as possible. Other sports teams will be subject to schedule modifications and might have scrimmages or games cancelled. On the plus side, we were able to save all varsity sports.”

The board anticipates the upcoming school year will include more financial difficulties. In a July 26 letter to parents, Superintendent of Schools Ed Grande offered clarification on all decisions made.

“As a result of three primary factors, increased out-of-district spending for students with special needs, associated transportation costs and decreased tuition from Garwood there was no surplus to apply this budget. We need to make $1.9 million in cuts to balance the budget,” the letter read.
Garwood’s population of high school students was lower than expected, with a total of 13 fewer students reported at the beginning of the last school year.

Also taking up a portion of the school budget, restrooms were repaired, and windows were updated and replaced at Valley Road School. The town says it’s overdue to receive state reimbursement for the project, although these kinds of repairs are paid by both the district and the state.

In order to minimize the impact on the budget, only three teachers were let go for the upcoming year. Superintendent Grande assured the school that the academics would not take a loss and that the maximum number of teachers would be working in the schools, making education the No. 1 priority. The school assured parents that the funding has been audited and that no financial wrongdoing was reported.

Parents of students attending Clark Public Schools have been taking to social media to air their frustrations about the school budget. Board of Education member Robert Smorol did not respond to requests for comment.