BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Board of Education adopted a tentative budget for 2017-18 of $52,230,185 during its meeting on Thursday, March 9. Of that amount, $41,927,960 will have to be raised by taxes, which will increase school taxes on the average home by $124.

The budget allows the district to continue to make investments that further its Strategic Plan in the following areas:  Curriculum Enhancements: Safety and Security; Technology and Facilities.

The budget includes, among other things, funds for the district to:
* Replace the track and turf field at the high school
* Add secure vestibules at each school, upgrade security cameras and installation of keyless entry systems
* Purchase iPad Air2s for sixth to eighth grade students, begin a third to fifth grade initiative using a Chromebook
* Replace one 54-passenger bus and other equipment for field maintenance

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The $53.2 million budget is broken into three types of expenditures: General Fund - $49,339,112; Special Revenue - $652,998 and debt service of $2,238,075.  Revenues totaling $10,302,225 come from three areas: General Fund - $9,055,590; Special Revenue of $652,998 and debt service - $593,637. That leaves a total of $41,927,960, to be raised by taxes: $40,283,522 - General Fund and $1,644,438 - Debt Service.

In the area of revenue, state aid remains the same as last year at $1,197,251, while a total of $970,000 will be used from the district's Capital Reserve, leaving a balance of $230,000. Tuition is down $356,943 mainly due to a decline in enrollment from Mountainside. There is $197,880 left from "unspent funds from the previous year," according to a chart displayed at the meeting.

Last year's projected revenue was just shy of $48 million, but was adjusted because of additional revenue from Extraordinary Aid and Carryover expenses totaling $458,772, making the actual revenues $48,444,895. This year's anticipated revenue is $49,339,112 - $1,352,939 more than last year's anticipated revenue.  

The average assessed home in the township is assessed at $311,000 said Superintendent Judith Rattner. The owner of the average home would have seen his school tax bill increase by $152 had there not been an increase of $7 million in ratables in the township.

The tax levy represents a 2.69% increase which includes a "banked cap of $271,129," according to the chart.  There is still some banked cap left which "We will be able to carry it over to the next year," said Board Administrator Donna Felezzola.

A copy of the budget presentation is to be uploaded onto the School District's website. It was not there at the time this story was published.

Now that the tentative budget has been approved it will be sent to the Executive County Superintendent for review. The board will know if it was approved by March 20. The board will vote to adopt the final budget at its meeting on April 27.