Home » HVRSD BOE adds new member, starts budget discussions

HVRSD BOE adds new member, starts budget discussions

by Ambreen Ali

Dr. Pamela Lilleston has been selected to fill the seat left by the retirement of former Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education (BOE) president Deborah Linthorst. A Director of Applied Research and Evaluation for the NJ Department of Children and Families, Lilleston has expertise in student advocacy that she will bring to the position, Superintendent Dr. Rosetta Treece said in a statement shared to the school community recently.

“I bring a passion for improving the lives of children and their families with a first-hand, evidence-informed perspective and deep appreciation of the teachers and staff at Hopewell Valley Schools,” Lilleston said in the statement.

Lilleston was selected out of a group of six community members who interviewed to fill the remainder of Linthorst’s term. At the regular BOE meeting in January, Treece said it was a difficult choice and she invited those who were not selected to consider running for the BOE in the next election.

“We could have had any of you on the Board, and you would all have been great assets,” Treece said.

At the meeting, Robert Colavita, Board secretary and assistant superintendent for finance, gave an overview of the schools’ finances in preparation for releasing a tentative budget in March. He said enrollment is expected to grow with new housing developments in the area, and the District is coping with the rising cost of energy, health, and transportation expenses. Colavita said the District schools also have required some unexpected repairs.

Currently, the District is operating at a surplus, which could be utilized to balance the budget. Colavita highlighted ways the District has tried to control costs, such as launching a self-insured health plan for employees and returning students with special needs from out-of-district placements to programs within the District.

Despite that, the District may need to cut back on some courses and activities The administration is evaluating enrollment in language, business, and fine arts courses, as well as demand for sports teams at the freshman and middle-school level. Budget constraints could also hinder building repairs and improvements, lead to a reduction in support staff, increase class sizes, or delay planned safety, security and tech upgrades, Colavita noted.

The State may provide relief in the form of an inflationary adjustment, something the District is pushing for alongside others, Treece said.

“This is going to be a tough year, and this is not the only District that is struggling…. we are all struggling to balance our budgets, and we are looking for some relief from the State,” she added. “We really don’t want this to impact our kids.”

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