Millburn School Officials Present Possible Budget Cut Priorities; Board President Outlines Surplus Allocation History, Tax Levy Impacts

MILLBURN, NJ — Millburn school district officials outlined at Monday’s regular board of education meeting a number of proposals to help close the gap between budgetary appropriations and revenues in the proposed 2012-2014 school spending plan.

In addition, board president Jeffrey Waters gave a presentation on the history of debt service payoffs and capital outlay expenditures as well as the effect certain fiscal events will have on the cost of running the district in the future.

The proposed budget, as it now stands, calls for $86,439,317 in expenditures and $84,186,913 in total revenues.

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According to figures presented by Superintendent of Schools James Crisfield, with an assumption that the district will receive no state aid, a 2 percent tax increase would leave a gap of $1,722,949 between revenues and expenditures, a 1 percent tax increase would leave a $2,431,986 gap, and a zero tax increase would leave a gap of $3,161,023.

Crisfield proposed the following cuts to bring about savings in the baseline budget first presented to the school body on Jan. 14:

• Save $60,000 each by not hiring a 0.4 full-time equivalent related arts chairman at the high school and a 0.4 full-time equivalent program chairman at the middle school.
• Save $423,500 by paying for air conditioning of the common areas of Deerfield, South Mountain and Wyoming Schools from the capital reserve fund.
• Defer the high school fire alarm and sprinkler renovation project to save $348,000.
• Defer the roof replacement at the education center to save $327,400.
• Delete the proposed side entrance upgrade at the middle school from the budget. Crisfield said that project probably would not be needed anyway because, due to security concerns, present plans call for location of the middle school entrance in the front of the building. This would save $84,000.
• Pay for the construction management services for the above projects that would continue out of the capital reserve fund to save another $80,000.
• Remove $156,025 for purchase of new technology peripherals such as smart boards and projectors from the budget.
• Make more aggressive assumptions about the projected savings from employee contributions to their health plan benefit costs to save $200,000.
Crisfield’s suggestions also include an expenditure of $80,000 to institute the position of district security officer to be stationed at the middle school.

Other possible reductions floated by the superintendent at Monday’s meeting included:

• Saving $350,000 by elimination of one of the teaching teams in the middle school. This would leave four teams in the sixth grade and three each in the seventh and eighth grades.
• Not filling 5.2 full-time equivalent teaching positions at the high school to save $320,000.
• Saving $30,000 by not filling a proposed 0.6 full-time equivalent central registrar position.
• Saving $131,400 by paying for asphalt/ concrete walkways at the Glenwood School out of the capital reserve.
• Cutting all non-salary benefit accounts by 10 percent to save $1,600,000.

Crisfield said three roofing projects already planned should be done and, with the above expenditures from the capital reserve this could leave the fund almost at zero—not a desirable position to put the district in.

Responding to a question raised at Sunday’s school board forum, Crisfield also outlined amounts remaining in the various fund balances.

As of June 30, 2012, $4,603,063 remained in the capital reserve, but between July 1 and Dec. 1 of last year about $1,300,000 was spent for major capital projects such as the middle school auditorium renovation.

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