Had Hurricane Sandy not wiped a couple of weeks from November, members of the Watchung Board of Education had hoped to have an idea of residents' priorities and concerns for planning the next school budget.
They'd even planned to dedicate a meeting to hear from residents—but that didn't happen.
At the Nov. 14 meeting, board members discussed some other ways to get input on the budget, such as a survey or perhaps just an open-ended question on the district website.
"First and foremost, I think it's important to show the public is always welcome to bring forth ideas," board member Tina Kelly said.
According to board President Charles Neiss, the board has to have a "basic direction on the budget by the end of the month." Without that, the process could get backlogged with other issues the board is working on as the year progresses.
The budget will not be placed for voter approval on a spring ballot, after the decision to move the school election to November—but that also means the budget must be within the 2 percent cap on any tax rate increase.
But the board must still complete the process in the same timeframe, including a public hearing in March or April (the state Department of Education will issue a schedule for the budget).
The board may post a simple form for residents to complete, but in the meantime, ideas and suggestions can be emailed directly to the board.