The Bayonne Board of Education has adopted its 2022-2023 operating budget.
The budget was presented to the board by School Business Administrator Daniel Castles at its April 27 meeting. The board had voted to introduce the budget at its March meeting.
Castles thanked those who helped put the budget together starting back in November. He thanked the Board of Trustees, specifically the Finance Committee for meeting over the months to get it done.
This year’s operating budget totals $170,745,072. This is $15,906,071 more than last year’s operating budget.
“Our budget is made up of a ton of different funds,” Castles said. “The main fund is Fund 10, which is the operating budget. That’s the day-to-day activities that you see, teacher salaries, instructional supplies. All of those thing are made up of the operating budget.”
Also in the budget is $41,595,251 in Special Revenue.
“Then there’s Fund 20 or special revenue,” Castles said. “That’s all the grants… The preschool is fully funded by a grant… There’s several grants throughout the district.”
Including in the 2022-2023 budget is a tax levy that will increase from $70,451,920 to $71,860,958. State aid rose from $80,104,327 to $92,277,342, increasing by $12,173,015.
“There’s a $16 million increase,” Castles said. “A majority of that increase is due to an increase in state aid. There’s a small percentage that’s an increase to local sources which is the increase in the tax levy.”
According to Castles, 54 percent of the budget is state aid, 42 percent is from local sources, less than one percent is federal money and three percent is from the Fund Balance.
“We’re more dependent on state aid now than we are on local sources, which is the tax levy,” Castles said. “That has changed over time. A big impact of that has been Senate Bill 2, which changed the way states and school districts were funded.”
Over 10 years ago, the tax levy was $59,392,474. It has since increased by $12 million. State aide was $53,982,143 ten years ago, seeing nearly a $40 million increase.
“There’s a significant difference between where we were in 2013-2014 versus where we are now,” Castles said. “This is a good thing because based on our enrollment, our state aid should have increased. It should increase more.”
Castles said the levy should have been $97,758,958, but the district is paying $25,898,00 less than its fair share calculation. State aid is also less than what it should be per uncapped state aid of $102,237,076.
“That changes every year based on your enrollment,” Castles said. “We’re still under just about $10 million under… We’re still underfunded, but we’re getting there.”
Castles said expenses have increased by about $16 million from last year’s budget.
“The major increase here is in salaries and benefits, which is a good thing,” Castles said. “You want to pay people to teach people things. Things don’t teach people, people teach people.”
That $16 million increase mainly consists of a $10.5 million increase in salaries. A total of 77 percent of the budget goes to salaries and benefits, with 61 percent for salaries and 16 percent for benefits.
Castles said the state average is anywhere from 75 to 85 percent. “We’re in that range,” He said.
New expenses in the budget include an increase in staffing including six instructional coaches, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, two behaviorists, and world language teachers. Other expenses include capital projects such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades at Washington, Woodrow Wilson and Robinson community schools, school yard replacing, the acquisition and renovation of St. Andrew’s School, and toward the Hudson County Vocational School at Bayonne High School in conjunction with the Hudson County Schools of Technology.
One additional program Castles touted was text book replacement.
“We’re hoping we can continue to do that in different subjects every year,” Castles said, also referring to the law enforcement and fire sciences program.
Board unanimously adopts budget
Vice President Christopher Munoz thanked former Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti and President Maria Valado and the others who made the increase in state aid possible.
“We’ve had an increase in state aid,” Munoz said. “I would like to give a shout out to our former Assemblyman Chiaravalloti who made that possible for years advocating down in Trenton for us to get that increase. He should be commended in that as well as President Valado and all the other trustees up here that kept fighting for it. We’re still $10 million short, but we’re getting there. And we’re in a lot better position financially from the state than we were just five years ago. So thank you, because our children are worth it.”
Bayonne Education Association President Gene Woods also thanked the board for addressing pressing issues in this budget.
“Thank for budgeting to cap and thank you for prioritizing the needs that were necessary in the district,” Woods said. “When you think about a lot of the things that have gone through in the past, there’s been some needs and neglects that have been happening. We’re continuing moving in the right direction.”
The board voted 8-0 to adopt the budget, with Trustee Melissa Godesky-Rodriguez absent and not voting.
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