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School Board Introduces 2023 Spending Plan

The school district’s assistant superintendent for business, Jonathan Toth, and schools Superintendent John Ravally (left to right) discuss the proposed 2033 budget at the school board’s March 17 meeting.

The Board of Education on March 17 introduced it’s proposed $204 million spending plan for Fiscal Year 2023.

The District’s preliminary $203,871,228 total budget – a 6.2 percent increase over FY 2022’s figure – is powered by a $158,195,280 tax levy, up 1.5 percent from 2022.

The preliminary budget’s general fund of $175,779,330 is up 2.1 percent from the FY 2022 figure, and the general fund’s $150,903,948 tax levy represents a 1.9 percent increase from FY 2022.

The District was hit with a state aid cut of $33,049 – to $15,621,841 – which schools Superintendent John Ravally called “concerning.”

The cut “obviously presents challenges since it has a direct impact on the district’s ability to offset increases in district expenses.” Ravally said in a March 16 email statement

“With that said, the Board of Education will work with district administrators to lessen the impact of the loss and make sure it leverages all other available funding sources to ensure essential programs are preserved for our students,” Ravally wrote.

Other state aid the District is receiving includes $5,672,994 in equalization aid, $1,634,154 in transportation aid, $6,733,247 in special education aid and $1,581,466 in security aid.

In addition, the District will receive $7,765,640 in preschool aid.

During the budget discussion at the March 17 meeting, Ravally listed several “challenges” he said the district had to overcome when creating the budget:

An $870,814 increase in transportation costs

A $2.5 million increase in health care costs

A $1.1 million increase in charter school tuition, and

the $33,049 decrease in state aid.

Those increases, Ravally said, “far exceed what our budget was able to grow. So what does that mean? We’ve got to find ways to offset those expenses in order to balance the budget. That’s the challenge.”

“You have to get creative when losing revenue in order to make ends meet,” Ravally said.

Ravally delineated several big-ticket areas in the budget goals.

The budget calls for $1.1 million for Pre-K expansion for more than 70 3-year-old students, a program that will be paid for with a grant.

The budget also sets aside $$110,000 for the hiring of a World Language Supervisor, a new position; $70,000 for a television production program in the Middle School, and $71,000 for a Career and technical Education supervisor at Franklin High School.

In the area of staff development, the budget sets aside $300,000 for summer curriculum writing, $25,000 for equity training and coaching, and $24,400 for a partnership with equal opportunity schools.

To further the district’s goal of expanding relationships with the community, the budget allocates $50,000 for translation services, $15,000 to bring back the district newsletter, and $15,000 to continue the district’s video productions.

To support sustainable and “green” initiatives, the budget earmarks $150,000 for HVAC filtration upgrades and $244,011for a PSEG grant for lighting and mechanical upgrades.

About $117,000 of that cost is paid for by the grant, and the rest is anticipated to be realized through savings, according to Ravally.

In addition to the World Languages Supervisor and the Career and Technical Education Supervisor, the budget sets aside $110,000 for a supervisor of elementary school counselors, $46,500 for more safety officers, and  $71,300 for a bilingual teacher.

The school board will hold a public meeting on the budget at its April 28 meeting.

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