GLEN ROCK, NJ – The Glen Rock Board of Education approved its budget for the 2020-21 school year, which calls for $53.2 million in spending and $48.1 million to be raised through taxation.
During a virtual meeting on April 28, the board unanimously approved its spending plan following a presentation and public hearing.
For the coming academic year, it means the district will spend about $18,260 in per pupil costs, a $220 decrease from last year. The average assessed borough home of $568,893 can expect to see the school portion of tax bills go up by $245.19, a 1.75% increase.
Michael Rinderknecht, the district’s business administrator and board secretary, pointed out last year, the average tax bill rose by $385 under the school budget and said this year it was a more “reasonable increase.”
The newly-approved budget, he said, “is a fiscally responsible plan that aligns with the district’s goals” and identifies areas for “recurrent savings and revenue enhancements.”
The spending breakdown includes: $28 million (salaries), $7.6 million (employee benefits), $1.5 million (special education), $3.7 million (public/private school tuition), $741,876 (special education transportation), $340,500 (transportation for co-curricular programs/athletics), $4.9 million (operation/maintenance), $1 million (capital projects) and $980,499 (technology).
Highlights include moving forward with an administrative restructure at the middle and high school, the addition of a 9th Kindergarten section, hiring a full-time, un-armed, plainclothes security guard for elementary schools, revising K-5 curriculums for science and English Language Arts and purchasing new Chromebooks for the middle school.
During a presentation Tuesday evening, Superintendent Dr. Brett Charleston said school officials always strive to be “considerate of taxpayer dollars” – whether they have children enrolled in the district or not.
“It’s about balancing the needs of the schools with that of the taxpayer,” he said.
Restructuring the middle and high school administration, Charleston said, “is a proposal we said from the beginning is budget neutral - it does pay for itself. It is in the best interest of the students in the high school and middle school and throughout the district.”
After both the middle school and high school principals announced their planned retirements at the end of this school year, the district began exploring a plan to go to one principal for the middle and high school, which share the same building.
The new structure includes two assistant principals, one for the middle school and the other for the high school, along with three additional supervisors for tech/media, language arts and math. The plan also calls for the addition of an assistant superintendent.
Charleston said they anticipate saving $65,532, with $32,653 realized through salary savings and $33,000 from benefits.
The budget also plans to hire one additional teaching should the district see an enrollment increase next fall, he said.
“It could be any level, K-12. As registration and enrollment comes through, we’ll determine where that will be and if we need to,” Charleston said.
And, after a demographic study projected an enrollment increase of 261 students by 2024-25, school officials decided to set aside $410,000 into its capital reserve fund, the superintendent said.
In the future, as the board starts to have conversation about the possibility of construction and increased enrollment, we have money set aside,” Charleston said.
Right now, officials anticipate $1.9 million in state aid for the district of six schools and about 2,500 students.
Though New Jersey is in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rinderknecht said they “have received no indication whatsoever that there will be any issue in relation to state aid.”
The district will continue with several shared service agreements, providing custodial services to North Haledon schools, participating in an insurance coverage and benefits group with dozens of other districts, membership in an educational pricing co-op to purchase supplies and materials and working with other Bergen County schools for transportation and special education out pf district placements.
Glen Rock schools also have a shared services agreement with the borough to assist with parking lot snow removal and salting, as well as providing the town with technology-related services, plumbing and electrical services by the school maintenance staff.
Board President Sharon Scarpelli said, “This year has been challenging due to the global pandemic and shutdown we are living through.”
“This budget contains enhancements and initiatives that improve our schools and also has cost savings that have no adverse impacts to students,” she said, adding, “It’s a strong and cost effective budget.”