Education

Berkeley Heights Residents to See Reduced School Tax Levy

9791dd95b9b8ca86d235_jrattner.jpg
Berkeley Heights Superintendent Judith Rattner presents the preliminary budget for the 2012-13 school year at the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, March 1. Credits: Deb Dawson
9791dd95b9b8ca86d235_jrattner.jpg

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – For the first time in a long time, residents will see their school tax levy reduced. The tax rate for the 2012-13 year will be $2.109 per $100 of assessed value. The 2011-12 rate was $2.113. The school tax bill for the average home will decrease by about $12.55 if the budget is approved by the executive county superintendent on Monday and adopted by the board on Thursday, March 22.

The operating budget is down $612,169 to $35,520,653, and debt service is up $72,311 bringing the total tax levy to $37,220,249. That’s $539,858 less than the 2011-12 school year, or minus 1.4 percent. The budget itself is up 2.5 percent to $43,018,893.

State aid increased significantly to $1,123,170 from $426,204 last year.

Sign Up for E-News

When introducing this preliminary budget at the Board f Education’s Thursday, March 1 meeting, Superintendent Judith Rattner said, “We believe that we are continuing to provide a strong academic program to our children in Berkeley Heights.”

In fact, much has been added and/or returned to the program.

  • HELP teachers will be returned at the third grade level to improve learning.
  • There are several technology improvements – an increase in bandwidth to help interconnectivity between the schools and on the Internet; 172 classroom and laptop computers will be replaced; six interactive projectors and 32 iPADS will be purchased.
  • Middle school sports will be funded by the school. Last year parents paid for half of the program.
  • There is a return to doing regular maintenance projects – the science, biology and family and consumer labs at Governor Livingston will be upgraded; all schools will have replacements for a few ceilings, floors and countertops. The floor tiles that will be removed are asbestos. Lockers will be replaced. Paving projects are planned with the help of the county. The district pays for the supplies and the county does the paving.
  • Two emergency generators will be purchased – one for the middle school and one for Governor Livingston. This will allow one of the schools to be used as an emergency shelter. The administration has asked for a FEMA grant to help fund the project.
  • Some maintenance equipment dating back to 1969 and 1970 will be replaced.
  • A new school bus will be purchased.
  • Two additional servers will be bought.
  • $375,000 will be deposited in the capital reserve to save for the eventual replacement of the roof at Woodruff School and the running track, among other projects.

In regular education initiatives include:

  • Introduction of a new elementary reading program.
  • Continued development of the kindergarten, bringing “specials” back into the classroom – art, music and physical education.
  • Increased teacher training in the new reading program, additional Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) training, the teacher evaluation program and training in differentiation on instruction, recognizing that each child is in a different place.
  • One first grade teacher will be added, based on enrollment.

New, in-district special education programs are being created at the elementary level. This will allow special education students to stay in-district and provide tuition from students who want to attend Berkeley Heights schools from out-of-district. A special education supervisor will be hired, as will a part-time learning disabled teaching consultant/anti bullying specialist, and 1.2 additional resource room teachers.

Board Secretary and School Administrator Donna Felezzola said the district has saved money in a number of ways. “We started the Green Schools Program to change people’s habits and how they use energy. We looked at the building schedules, when heat was on and off and significantly reduced our energy costs by more than $250,000.”

The district also participates in several buying cooperatives, and as mentioned earlier, is starting in-district special education which will save on both tuition and transportation costs.

The preliminary budget passed unanimously at Thursday’s meeting with board member Denis Smalley asking that the cost for employee benefits be reviewed before final adoption. He said history indicates the $7.8 million projected will come in at about $1 million less.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

'Tired of cronyism? Yeah, us too'

July 21, 2018

The Union County Freeholders’ decision to appoint State Senator and newly-elected Union County Democratic Chairman, Nick Scutari’s chief of staff, Ed Oatman as County Manager smelled of corruption from the start. To place a political consultant like Oatman in the role of overseeing 2,800 employees and running the day-to-day operations of the $500 million county budget suggests ...

TAPinto Spotlight on Business Features New Providence Dentistry

July 17, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - TAPinto "Summer Spotlight on Business" features local businesses and their owners who are important to our communities. Follow this column to receive a fresh perspective on small business owners and their unique needs while shining a spotlight on their stories.

This edition features New Providence Dentistry, operated by Dr. Beth Herko and her staff of ...

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Caring Contact Volunteer Listener Training

July 21, 2018

Caring Contact Volunteer Listener Training Fall 2018

Are you looking for a flexible, rewarding volunteer opportunity?

Have you ever been told you are a good listener?

Do you have a yearning to really make a difference?

Become a Caring and Crisis Hotline Listener.

You could save a life.

Volunteers receive 52 hours of comprehensive training in active listening, Mental Health ...

Shakespeare in the Park Returns to Union County Sunday, July 22

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce the return of Shakespeare in the Park this weekend. The performance will be presented on Sunday, July 22 at 12:30 p.m. at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield.

The Shrew Mechanicals Troupe from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present an hour long performance of “Shakespeare Gumbo,” a stirring collection of ...

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, July 22, 2:00 PM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Moths and other Pollinators

Education Green

Carousel_image_634bcda860ed17650f72_93a8625c-ce9d-413f-a61e-4b2df4fe0604

Tue, July 24, 3:00 PM

Grillestone Restaurant , Scotch Plains

Hear the Story of Amelia Earhart, America's Most ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_e6c7d5b8a558926ee4c5_8e2f7c3f3d7547130a87_swim_team_2

Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_e6c7d5b8a558926ee4c5_8e2f7c3f3d7547130a87_swim_team_2

Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_b91f21bd7ac6c164e408_wednesday_matinees_at_trailside

Wed, July 25, 1:30 PM

Trailside Nature & Science Center, MountainsidE

Trailside’s Annual Summer Wednesday Matinee ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sings Conclude with Verdi ...

Arts & Entertainment

Special June Episode of 'Berkeley Heights Here & Now' Features 6th Annual Street Fair

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee (BHCC) today announced a special edition of Berkeley Heights Here & Now is available on the Township website, www.berkeleyheightstwpnj.gov.

 

The special episode features the 6th Annual Berkeley Heights Street Fair held on June 24 and includes onsite interviews with attending residents/visitors, event ...

And Over Here is the Dining Hall 2

My very first job in admissions was while I was still an undergraduate myself as a tour guide.  Very early on they indoctrinated us with some tricks of the trade.  It’s a dining hall, not a cafeteria.  A residence hall, not a dorm.  If you have to divulge some negative bit of information, sandwich it between two positives.  There were instructions for glossing over ...

Women Have Special Financial Needs That Advisors Overlook

Women have special financial needs that advisors overlook in two ways: 1) advisors don’t always acknowledge the different planning needs women have and 2) advisors don’t always communicate well with female clients – especially if the client comes to a meeting with her husband. It’s very common for a male advisor to spend much or most of the face time in meetings talking to ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...