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School Board Introduces $168M 20-21 Spending Plan

A $168 million preliminary budget for the 2020-2021 school year was adopted March 23 by the Board of Education.

The board met in a conference call due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

The $167,943,278 estimated operating budget is up nearly $3 million, or 2 percent, from the 2019-20 figure of $165,027,353.

The budget is powered by a total tax levy – including current expense and debt service – of $147,251,254 for the 2020 calendar year, and $151,105,752 for the 2021 calendar year.

The calendar year 2020 tax levy comes with a total tax rate of $1.44 per $100 of assessed valuation, while the calendar year 2021 tax levy carries a total tax rate of $1.43 per $100 of assessed valuation.

That means in calendar year 2020, the school portion of the municipal tax bill would be $4,857.88 for the owner of a home with the average assessed value of $336,447.

In calendar year 2021, the school portion of the municipal tax bill would be $4,936.77 for the owner of a home with the average assessed value of $344,433, an increase of $78.89 from 2020.

Included in the budget is $14,675,501 in state aid, a $643,929 increase over the previous year.

The budget also accommodates:

  • Security Upgrades: $750,000
  • FHS Turf &Track: $950,000
  • District HVAC: $175,000
  • District Floor: $660,000
  • District Paving & Concrete: $300,000
  • Community Center and Board Administrative Complex at Consolata: $750,000

The budget allocates $1,525,930 for supporting “the continuation and equitable growth of FTPS Specialized programs to support all students, including the expansion of Early Childhood, Career and Technical Education, Academy, Enrichment/Honor/Advanced Placement, Transitional, Special Education, ESL/Bilingual, AIS, and STEAM programs.”

That includes:

  • Expanding the Pre-K Program to 3-Year Old Children
  • Expanding Math Academic Support Services to the Elementary Level
  • Increase ESL Services for Level I and Level II Students
  • Addition of the J & J Bridge to Employment Program at FHS
  • Biology teacher to support the Health Professions Academy Program
  • Increase Reading Support at FHS through Staffing and the Expansion of Achieve 3000
  • Continuing to support our work with Equal Opportunity Schools
  • Addition of Social Studies Honors at the Middle School Level
  • Partnership with Rutgers Behavioral Health Care to Support Behavioral Health of All Students.

The budget also includes $731,367 in personnel costs increases. Those include:

  • $152,537 for two support service personnel for the Board Administrative Complex at Consolata, and one custodian.
  • $142,100 for two full-time teacher equivalents for elementary math
  • $142,100 for two teachers in math and English Language Arts to reduce class sizes at Franklin Middle School — Sampson G. Smith campus
  • $71,050 for a bi-lingual teacher at Franklin High School
  • $71,050 for a biology teacher at the Franklin High School Health Professionals Academy
  • $71,050 for a resource room teacher to reduce class sizes
  • $71,050 for a reading specialist at FHS.

There’s also $241,000 in safety related costs, including:

  • Capital Reserve funds to be used for improvements of surveillance capabilities at FHS.
  • Purchase of Additional Radio Equipment
  • Continued use of safety initiatives such as Share 911, Lobby Guardand the School Safety Initiative with the Franklin Township Police Department.
  • Halo Vape Detection Program at FHS.

The budget allocates $224,500 in professional staff development, including:

  • Continued use of Registered Behavior Technicians as consultants to provide professional training to staff on behavior modification strategies.
  • Professional development to support and narrow opportunity gap in Honors and Advanced Placement courses.
  • Professional Development to promote equity in learning opportunities.
  • Professional Training Modules on meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Students presented by Rutgers Behavioral Health Care.
  • Curriculum alignment and modifications to meet state expectations (NJSLS).

The budget will next be submitted to the Somerset County Executive Superintendent of Schools for review and approval, and a hearing and final adoption of the budget is set for April 28.

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