BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ—A 2017-18 budget for school purposes totaling $52,230,185 was unanimously adopted on Thursday by the Berkeley Heights Board of Education.
The budget, which will increase by 1.8 percent over the 2016-17 tab, will yield a tax increase in support of township schools amounting to 2.69 percent or $124.00 on the average Berkeley Heights home assessed at $311,000,
Included in the spending plan is $970,000 withdrawn from capital reserve to offset the cost of construction projects including construction of security vestibules in all district schools with installation of keyless entry systems to reduce the number of unlocked doors and a requirement that all visitors pass through two levels of security when entering school buildings.
Additionally, the 11-year-old turf field at Governor Livingston High School will be replaced and the school’s 20-year-old track will be repaired.
In conjunction with these projects, the board on Thursday awarded a $187,128.51 contract for the keyless entry system, a $390,603 contract with Shaw Sports Turf for purchase and installation of the new turf field and a base bid amount of $795,000 for construction of the secure vestibules through a contract with Pal Pro Builders, LLC.
In addition to the base bid, the firm submitted three alternate bids of $4,000, $5,000 and $9,000, respectively.
The budget also includes a $271,279 adjustment to health care costs to offset the increased costs of employee health care benefits.
According to a statement in the budget resolution, “This budget adjustment will result in a permanent increase in the tax levy.”
Also included in the budget are “technology upgrades in accordance with the strategic plan” such as:
- The 1:1 Initiative for third-to-fifth graders using Chromebooks
- Purchase of a classroom set of MacBooks in response to computer science curriculum changes
- Upgrades in the Gov. Livingston television studio computers
- Replacement of classroom interactive whiteboards as scheduled
- Purchase of new iPad Air2’s for sixth-to-eighth graders to replace iPads reaching their expected lifespan
- Refreshing of classroom workstation computers
- Upgrading of access points at Mary K. McMillin Early Childhood Center
- Upgrading of wireless switches in closets at the high school and Columbia Middle School.
Curriculum enhancements to be made in accordance with the strategic plan include:
- New course offerings at the high school, including advanced placement computer science, Advanced Human Behavior and the two-year AP Capstone Program.
- New electives at the middle school, including new offerings in technology, art, science and music
- Additional STEM-related programs “to achieve strategic planning goals” for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.