March 19, 2014 at 11:00 PM
RANDOLPH, NJ- The Board of Education had their 2014/ 2015 tentative budget presentation on Tuesday, March 18. Chairperson of the Finance, Facilities, and Transportation Committee, Al Matos, presented an overview of what the next academic year will entail.
"This is a tentative budget that the board is obligated to submit to the county on March 20," said Matos.
Business Administrator and FFT Council Liaison, Michael Neves, put the budget together with input from the budget managers. The budget process started back in November.
At the beginning of the budget season, Matos reported a gap of about $3.5 million. Neves and the administration reconciled that gap with the budget managers and brought it down to zero where it remains currently.
After March 20, the county reviews the budget. On April 24, the district will hear of any feedback from the county. Between April 24 and May 7, the final budget will be submitted to the state after the board considers its action on May 6.
The Northern New Jersey Consumer Price Index increased recently. On average, the expenses have increased 1.5% compared to last year. That cost is accounted for in the budget.
The total of the proposed budget includes a 2% full cap tax levy. There is a two-page report with the revenues and expenditures available to the public. The district received an effectively flat state aid of $13.47 million.
"We're on the losing side," said Matos, "because there is no inflation. We got a flat state aid so we have to somehow manage that through the expenses."
The operating budget is used to fund items such as salaries, benefits; whereas extra and co-curricular activities have a general fund of $82.92 million. It is roughly the same as this current academic year.
"I reemphasize that we have the same budget with more expenses, mainly due to inflation which is driven by a lot of labor cost and benefits for the most part."
Personnel and Benefits had a total reduction of 1.9%. The details show that benefits actually increased by 9%, which were offset by some employee contributions.
The Regular Operating District (ROD) Grant will get 40% from the the state and the other 60% will be budgeted by the district. The facilities in need will finally get the upgrade they need next year.
"At the end of the day, revenues equal expenses," said Matos. “But we continue to provide Randolph with a superior educational experience."
Another widely talked over subject is the impact of the affordable health care. The one way it is affecting the district, which has been budgeted for, is with long-term substitutes. The law says that if someone, in this case a long-term substitute, works an average of 30 hours per week, that the district must offer them an affordable health care. Although there have been cases where substitutes are switched out for others in order to avoid reaching the 30 hours and providing the health care, Randolph has decided not to do that.
"That would be very unfair to the students," said Matos. "That's something that we don't want to do so we have put in place a strategy that will keep the long term substitute in the classroom without having changes made. That's additional dollars and costs, but we felt that given the law the way it is and the needs of the students that this is the best thing to do."
The Board approved its tentative budget for the 2014-2015 school year, and it will now go to the Morris County office for review. The Board will be presenting the tentative budget to the town council on Thursday, March 20.
The Board is expected to approve a final budget on May 6 in advance of the final May 7 deadline for budget submissions to the state. The May 6 budget hearing will take place in the RHS Auditorium at 8 p.m., and is open to the public.
To view the tentative budget PowerPoint presentation given publicly Tuesday night, as well as the tentative budget packet for 2014-2015, click on THIS LINK.