LIVINGSTON, NJ - On Thurs March 21, the 2013-2014 tentative budget for Livingston Public Schools was passed.
The total budget for 2013-2014 is set at $106,170,578.00, an approved budget that is below the State mandated 2% cap. "We could have spent $411,369 and still did it within 2% cap plus adjustments...which we will bank for future year if we want it to, but it will not be used in this budget" stated Board Secretary, Steven Robinson.
The State aid average is 4% but Livingston receives only 3%. Approximately 93% of the funds for this budget come from Livingston district taxes, giving proof of how the citizens of Livingston provide for their own expenses.
The approved budget monies will be dispersed between things like operations and plant maintenance, student transportation, capital outlay, administrations and supportive services. "The bulk will go to Instruction and support services which includes Special Education. This is where it should be,” explained Robinson.
Many positives continue to flourish within the Livingston School Systems.
For four years in a row, Livingston has been the lowest in cost for per pupil expenditures compared to other districts surrounding them. "We are achieving by far well above any set of the mean or average of the state of NJ , and if not that, of the nation. “We're delivering at a below cost per pupil for the state average," stated Brad Draeger, Superintendent. An accomplishment that Draeger thinks should be pleasing to the tax payers.
Along with this are other accomplishments, from professional growth in the teachers, to student growth in the classrooms, technology enhancements, facility improvements, parent/community partnerships, and implementations of policies and procedures for the safety and well-being of both student and teacher.
Special education programs, such as the Grade 6 and 7 Autism programs, Life Skills, and K-1 transitional program are all moving forward. "You can always tell how well your program is doing by the success of the students, and the students are doing very well..." stated Laurence Russell, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services and Instruction.
AP Honor Roll is on the rise with more students taking AP courses. For the second straight year, LHS was among the schools included in the AP Honor Roll by the College Board, with 95.5% of the students earning 3 or higher on the exams. Draeger pointed out "The average score at LHS is 4.19 and we offer 26 AP classes. There are schools throughout the nation that offer 2 and 3 AP classes, so there really is a school distinction in that category".
A host of Non-State funded initiatives remain stable and strong, without dropping any of them from budget.
Looking forward, strategic plans are in place for things such as curricular initiatives, technology initiatives, facility projects, and special education plans.
New science secondary courses on natural disasters and infectious diseases offering will be implemented in September "…to provide opportunities for those [senior] students who might want to take a science elective" stated Mary Oates, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction.
With technology, adding video surveillance, 3D printing and computer lab upgrades are among the items to be implemented. "One of the things that parents will see the most is the enhanced parent portal...working well on mobile devices as well as additional functionality," stated Tom Douglas, Manager of Technology.
Special education plans will continue to grow on Autism needs, life skills, and social/emotional supporting programs. Integrating these programs with students, teachers, and parents will be an ongoing unified effort since "…you can't just put these programs in place and not look at the whole system," said Russell. Therefore, training will be put into practice to help support these programs.
A request to extend the Budget Calendar to April has been proposed to Legislators.