FLEMINGTON, NJ - Under the proposed tentative budget for the Hunterdon Central Regional School District next year, salaries, employee benefits and the tax levy will increase – but state aid will decrease again.
Gymlyn Corbin, business administrator and board secretary, presented the district’s tentative spending plan at the March 9 board of education meeting.
The 2020-2021 budget totals $72,473,164, an increase of $585,806 over the current year.
The projected enrollment is expected to be 2,667, a decrease of eight students. That number follows a trend of decreasing enrollment in the district that began with the 2017-2018 school year. The tentative spending plan includes funding for developing the curriculum to match state standards and align with the district’s wellness priorities. It maintains all existing programs, including wellness initiatives like wrap-around and other counseling and mental health services.
In addition to salaries and benefits, the budget is also increasing because of investments in school security measures and a rise in transportation costs related to a shortage of qualified drivers.
Also calculated in the budget is a reduction in state aid due to the state deeming the school district “overfunded.” The state reduced its contributions to the district by $224,082.
State legislation is phasing out overfunding of certain districts to provide more funds to chronically underfunded schools over a six-year period. State aid is calculated based on student population, local district aggregate income and local tax ratables, and those districts receiving more than the target amount will have their aid reduced.
Hunterdon Central was deemed one such district.
State aid comprises 7.3 percent of the budget. School district officials did not specifically detail how the reduction in state aid impacts the district, but Corbin said they practice fiscal responsibility “on a daily basis.”
"[We review] purchase requests, shopping for the best price and evaluating whether purchases align with district goals,” she said.
Households in the school district will see an increase in their tax levy, which comprises the majority of the school district’s revenue. Delaware Township will see the biggest increase on average, with an extra $60.17 per household.
However, they were the only ones to see a decrease for the current year’s budget, $53 per household.
Readington Township will have the smallest increase at $1.93.
Several capital projects in next year’s budget includes upgrades to the campus-wide clock and bell system, an emergency generator and upgrading stadium lighting to LED. Those projects are scheduled to begin in the summer of 2021.
The tentative budget also includes paying off half of the district’s long-term debt, which will be $4,310,753.13 this July. The final debt payment is due in September 2021.
The tentative budget is expected to be approved at the board’s next meeting March 16. It will be reviewed by the county before it is presented for public hearing and adoption in April.
Click here to see the budget presentation.