The Board of Education adopted a $120 million school budget on Tuesday, up approximately $1 million over last year’s it will result in a more than seven percent increase over last year’s tax levy. Business Administrator Steven Somick said the school tax levy for 2013will be $44 million, up $3 million over last year.
The school tax rate is expected to increase by 11 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
“Our budget was held flat this year from the state,” said Somick. “We got half a million increase, far below adequacy. Half a million dollars in a budget of $120 million is not a significant change.” He said the district will try to minimize the impact of lower funding on the Title 1 through IV programs.
Some of the cost increases contributing to the increase are salaries, benefits, and special education and tuition. The per pupil cost in the school district is $12,746.
Somick said one of the district’s goals was to make sure that as a result of the budget there are no job layoffs.
“We are right now at the level we were when Governor [Chris] Christie took over.” – Business Administrator Steven Somick
Voters will have their say on the budget in the school board election on April 16.
Cost efficient attempts
According to Somick, the district’s capital reserves, which are in place to be fiscally responsible, are funding the move of the preschool project trailers in James Braddock Park to a location as yet to be determined.
The Board of Education plans to place solar panels on all school buildings to save on electricity. New windows have also been put in the Horace Mann and Robert Fulton schools as well as the Lincoln and Franklin Schools.
“It’s challenging, but we have a way of making it work and we try to be as frugal as possible,” said Somick. “There’s gonna be one point in time where the seam is gonna burst. We can hold it off for a couple more years and hopefully things turn around and the economy [picks up].”
Somick said the school district has undergone a fiscal decline.
“We are right now at the level we were when Governor [Chris] Christie took over,” said Somick. “It took four years to end up right back where we were four years ago.”
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org