WARETOWN, NJ – Last month, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Lommerin put parents on notice regarding a reduction in state aid to the district. The move puts more emphasis on tax revenue from Ocean Township homeowners. In voting on the 2020-2021 $12.2M budget, the Board of Education unanimously decided to keep expenditures as low as possible.
“Our focus in preparing the budget was student-centric,” shared George Gahles. Business Administrator/Board Secretary. “This means putting the most amount of resources that touch and affect our students.”
Next year’s budget not only centers on academics, but also in clubs and performing arts opportunities. The district plans to expand opportunities as far as technology, including the acquisition of more Chrome books.
In order to make the budget work, Ocean Township schools share services with a number of different municipalities. This includes purchasing cooperatives with other communities. The pre-school program receives funding from the state.
“We lost about $950K net on this budget,” Gahles said. “However, we did have some lower costs that worked into the budget.”
Tuition decreased within the municipality by $356K, primarily due to lower special education costs. The district also saw a reduction in employee benefits expenses of $393K. Some of this was due to attrition.
According to Gahles, the state feels that the district is $2.6B below expected tax levy and used this as justification for the cut in funding. In order to make up the moneys necessary, the district would conceivably need to raise taxes by twenty percent without making changes.
“The way our budget is funded is 32 percent by state and federal aid,” explained Gahles. “Sixty percent is by tax levy and 8 percent this year was funded by reserves.”
Gahles compared the Ocean Township’s tax rates to other communities in the area.. In Ocean Township, the new tax rate is $.92 of $100 assessed value. Other municipalities are in excess of $1.20, or at least 29 percent higher.
Board of Education President Sean Denning, Jr. reviewed the comparisons between neighboring towns and complimented the Superintendent of Schools.
“I can’t help but credit Dr. Lommerin,” Denning said. “We are so lean that it’s incredible.”