NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Board of Education approved the approximately $42 million budget for the 2019-2020 school year at its Thursday, April 25 meeting. Board Member Ira Krauss explained that the budget is a culmination of eight months of work. He complemented the school administration’s input in the budget process which made it “easy” for the board.
The approved budget is 3.52 percent or $1,416,067 higher than last year’s budget. The increase is mainly due to increased employee benefits costs as well as additional funds being directed towards both regular and special education. Krauss noted that the cost per student is still lower in New Providence than in neighboring towns.
The school tax levy for 2019-2020 is $38,105,152 which is $835,326 (or 2.24 percent) higher compared to the 2018-2019 school year. Krauss noted that the district is allowed to increase the tax levy by two percent; however, additional employee benefit cost is not included in the two percent cap. The district raised its tax levy slightly less than allowed by the regulations. The tax increase for an average home assessed at $297,445 is $111 or 1.36 percent for the calendar year of 2019. Krauss noted that the increasing ratables have helped the district again this year. The budget also generates $165,991 of banked cap that can be used during the next budget cycle.
The board’s goals for the budget is to meet educational goals while staying within the state mandated cap, maximize operational efficiencies, and drive funds and resources into classrooms for the benefit of students. Other goals include consideration of the tax burden on the residents, and maintenance of school facilities.
The approved budget includes additional science and STEM class offerings as well as new World and English Language Arts classes. The budget also reflects new staffing requirements due to increased enrollment as well as enhanced course offerings for the upcoming school year. The budget allows the district to continue with its technology enhancement plan as well as the shared service operations with the borough to have a School Resource Officer in each school building.
The capital improvements for the upcoming budget cycle include HVAC unit replacements, three busses, technology servers, printers and projectors, scissor lift replacement, musical instruments and auditorium theater wireless controls among others. Floor tile replacement, sidewalks, exterior lighting, as well as exterior door and window screens are a part of the Salt Brook School improvements. Allen W. Roberts School is scheduled for fencing, sidewalk and floor tile upgrades.
The district will receive $1,609,620 of state aid which reflects an 11.4 percent increase compared to the 2018-2019 school year. The state aid represents only approximately four percent of the total budget.