Millburn School Budget First Draft Totals $88,376,665; Tax Increase $133 to $266

Millburn school district information technology director Rob Winston presents his proposed budget. Credits: Bob Faszczewski

MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn school officials on Monday presented the first draft of the proposed 2014-2015 district budget, with a total of $88,376,665 in appropriations and projected tax increases of $133 for the 2014-2015 school year on a township home assessed at $1 million and $266 on a home assessed at $2 million.

The total tax levy for the school year would amount to $77,471,578, compared to $78,558,213 for the 2013-2014 school year.

In reviewing the budget figures, school business administrator Steven DiGeronimo noted that the projected amount left unspent at the end of 2014 will be about $1.5 million, compared to $2.2 million last year and $2.9 million two years ago.

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In his first round of optional budget cuts to close the gap between revenues and appropriations, superintendent of schools James Crisfield suggested trimming $1,232,000 from this year’s original budget proposals.

The options include not hiring three fulltime technical support staff members to save $175,000, not hiring a curriculum supervisor to save $132,000, not hiring a special education psychologist, for a savings of $90,000 and not hiring a half-time kindergarten-to-fifth-grade special education teacher and a 0.4 fulltime equivalent basic skills teacher at the middle school for savings of $45,000 each.

Crisfield noted that, projecting no cuts in state aid, the gap to be closed with a 2 percent tax increase would be $1,932,389, with a 1 percent tax increase $2,665,806 and with no tax increase $3,399,224.

Monday’s meeting also saw the presentation of the proposed curriculum and instruction budget by assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Christine Burton and the proposed technology budget by district director of information technology Rob Winston.

During her presentation Burton announced that the district, for the first time during the next school year, would be offering a CPA course in Algebra I in three sections of the eighth grade.

She said this would be aimed at preparing students who are not yet ready for calculus at the accelerated level and would open up the study of calculus so that students would not have to double up on courses in their senior year of high school. 

Burton also said the projected curriculum also would include a new course in Connected Math 3.

In the last three years, she noted, the district has added 23 courses at the high school, four in the middle school and three in the elementary schools. 

The proposal to add a curriculum supervisor position to assist Burton in curriculum development, professional staff development and other duties drew some criticism from former board member Abby Kalan.

Kalan said school officials had not sufficiently explained what extra duties Burton was taking on compared to those who preceded her in the district and why these extra duties justified the proposed new position.

In his presentation, Winston outlined a proposed budget of $2,259,382, including $337,000 for infrastructure, $207,792 for internet services, $354,635 for operational services and data center support and $83,000 for administrative support and supplies.

Among his proposals was the addition of the three tcchnical staff positions mentioned in the proposed cut list above. He said having the three fulltime positions would provide staff members at each level of education in the district and do away with staffers working parttime in other district positions and parttime as members of the technical staff. He also outlined the thousands of devices for which each technical staff member is responsible.

Asked about contracting out these services, he said the district would not have to pay benefits to contracted staffers, but, with contracted employees the district could not be assured of continuity or that the contractors would be on site every day.

The director also said the institution of PAARC testing would require more staff time.

In response to a question from resident Ken Ettinger he said although the district might not provide dry runs of PAARC by students before the online testing began it was a participant in regional tests of the new online assessment system.

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