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Sai Bhargavi is a parent in Berkeley Heights Schools District in Union County and is a contributor to Berkeley Heights Community Watch. You can follow http://bhcw.io/ for the latest on Berkeley Heights.
The Berkeley Heights School District has a history of violating state laws on bidding, educational adequacy, and educational adequacy (cited by the New Jersey Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance in 2010* and 2021- both decisions attached below). This is the tip of the iceberg, as legal spending has increased by nearly 90%, in part due to alleged ethics violations validated by the School Ethics Commission on the part of Superintendent Melissa Varley and Board of Education members (https://bhcommunitywatch.com/
Instead of correcting these issues, Berkeley Heights continues to create new ones, more recently in connection to the budget. The 2022 and 2023 budgets were notable in their significant deviation from the District’s practice and written policies. I would like to focus on what appears to be, at the very least, a deceptive practice.
This is not just important for Berkeley Heights residents, as it is likely that school districts across the state are engaging in similar practices.
The monthly transfer reports below reveal that one account, Medical Benefits, is being used as a feeder to other budget accounts.
This practice is deceptive: students, parents, and taxpayers are made to believe that specific amounts of money are budgeted for Medical Benefits or other accounts. Yet, the actual amount being spent is quite different.
I am uncertain about the legality of this budgeting practice, but I am confident that it’s not in the best interest of the district’s stakeholders.
OFAC Finding 2021: https://bit.ly/3akGqw5
OFAC Finding 2010: https://bit.ly/3KoUG5r
Transfer Reports: https://bit.ly/
Latest email to county, OFAC and OCS https://bit.ly/40Y5QVM