School Board Approves 2015-16 Budget; Overall Tax Rate Increases 2.6 Percent

5-7-15 meeting (super)02

Interim schools Superintendent Lee Seitz said he was “thrilled” that the state did not cut aid to the district.

A $160 million spending plan carrying a 2.6 percent tax hike for the 2015-16 school year was unanimously approved May 7 by the Board of Education.

The budget carries with it a total school portion tax rate increase of about 4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, from $1.43 to $1.47 per $100. That translates to a $163.95 increase in the school portion tax for the owner of a home assessed at $309,503, the township’s average.

The $159,505,121 budget – including general fund and debt service – is powered by a total tax levy of $134,140,810.

State aid remained constant, interim schools Superintendent Lee Seitz said, but the district will have to pay an additional $1,576,014 to the township’s two charter schools.

Among the savings cited by the district are about $400,000 in out-of-district placements, $620,313 through staff contributions to health benefits, $104,350 through the reduction of reading and writing workshop consultants and $460,000 as a result of outsourcing substitute teachers.

The budget includes $8 million for the district’s energy savings improvement program and $4 million for roof work at Sampson G. Smith, Hillcrest and Franklin Middle schools and HV/AC work at Sampson, Seitz said.

Also funded in the budget is $403,500 for seven new teachers: three pre-school, a 3rd Grade teacher at Elizabeth Avenue School, a math coach and two teachers at Franklin Middle School.

The budget sets aside $203,650 for expanded full-day pre-school, $50,000 for the enhanced elementary school Gifted & Talented program, $22,000 for a new ST math program, and $247,599 for the “Effective School Solutions” program.

“In all my years as a superintendent, this was the best budget to come together that I’ve ever worked on,” Seitz said. “With the limitations we have … we have pulled together a budget that will meet the needs of our students.”

“We have a strong budget that supports the academic environment,” said board president Ed Potosnak.

The district no longer has to submit its budget for public approval since switching its elections to November.

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