NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Board of Education (BOE) unanimously approved the budget for the 2017-2018 school year at its Thursday, April 27 meeting. Prior to the budget vote the board provided a power point presentation on the budget highlights.
The budget totals $37,605,367 of which $35,448,844 is funded though property taxes. The budget increases 2.38 percent compared to the previous school year when $34,643,702 came from the taxpayers’ pockets. A total of $692,874 will be generated from the tax hike. The tax increase is limited to the two percent cap, therefore the district is using $112,268 from the banked cap funds to fill the gap. The state aid remains the same as last year at $949,023. The tax increase for an average home valued at $291,105 with a market value of $567,567 will be $82 for the 2017 calendar year. The debt service cost for the 2016 referendum is included in the total of $82.
Board member Ira Krauss explained the district’s goals when formulating the budget. The district strives to stay within the state mandated two percent budget increase cap. During the budget process the district evaluates all programs and staffing needs while maintaining the culture of a high achieving district. It is “a balancing act” of maximizing operational efficiencies and considering the burden on taxpayers, Krauss said.
The largest expense items are classroom instruction and staff medical insurance costs despite the fact he that the staff is making considerable contributions to their medical insurance coverage.
The cost per pupil remains lower in New Providence compared to neighboring districts. The average state cost per pupil is $15,144 while in New Providence it is $13,234.
Superintendent David Miceli explained the staff and program additions included in the budget. He noted that there will be no cuts to the current staff numbers. The district is hiring three STEM (math, technology, engineering and science) teachers, one for each Allen W. Roberts, Salt Brook and high schools. The district will also hire a new elementary school teacher and half day kindergarten teacher due to the large student population.
Furthermore, the district is adding special education behaviorist hours. The middle school science program will also see added instruction hours. Additionally the district is hiring three middle school club advisers and two assistant coaches for the growing cheerleading and boys basketball programs. The position of athletic director will be changed from a 10 month to 10.5 month contract.
The budget will enable new STEM classes throughout the district. Aerospace Engineering, Environmental Sustainability, and Architectural and Engineering Design will be offered at the high school starting next fall. The district is also adding Honors Calculus for the benefit of those students who find the AP Calculus too demanding and regular calculus not challenging enough. Junior Engineering class will be added to the middle school STEM program.
The budget will also facilitate other technology replacements and enhancements throughout the district.