WOODLAND PARK, NJ - The Woodland Park Board of Education recently held a public hearing for and adopted its 2020-2021 school district operating budget.

The total budget is $20,018,859. The local tax levy, the amount to be raised by taxation is $17,097,768, which is up 3.1%, from the current year’s spending plan. The tax bill on a Borough average home, assessed at $345,624, will increase by $118, from $3,504 to $3,622.

The tax rate increases from $1.014 cents per hundred to $1.048 cents per hundred, or 3.4 tax points. This is calculated by dividing the assessed value of the home by 100 and then multiplying by $1.048 for local school tax.

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Factors that impact the budget include under-funded state aid, special education costs, health benefit costs and dependence on expensive technology. This includes wireless infrastructure, digital textbooks, computers, printers, servers, and network switches.

Superintendent Dr. Michele Pillari said that the spending plan maintains all existing programs. In addition, it includes the continuation and support of the district’s 1:1 technology initiative for grades 2-8, funding to support the upcoming grade realignment, and the reopening of School #1.

Starting in September, fifth grade will move to Beatrice Gilmore School. Charles Olbon School will serve grades K to 2 and special education preschool; Beatrice Gilmore will serve grades 3 to 5 and Memorial School will serve grades 6 to 8.

School #1 will open as a preschool in September and serve eight classes of 3- and 4-year-old children tuition free. The reopening of School #1 was enabled by a $1.3 million grant received from the state, as well as funds banked over the past few years that the building has been rented out. The John P. Holland School, which has been using the building, has also made significant upgrades to the building.

Dr. Pillari noted that the preschool would not have been a reality if not for the efforts of Dr. Irizarry, principal of Charles Olbon School, who was instrumental in getting the grant application in, as well as the support of the Board of Education and administration.

"This was a team effort," Dr. Pillari noted. "It's a huge accomplishment for the district and truly a wonderful opportunity for the children."

The budget also continues investment in district facilities. Over the summer, five classrooms and the kitchen will be renovated at Charles Olbon School and one classroom at Beatrice Gilmore School will be subdivided into two rooms.

The district is also excited to be able to offer a financial literacy course for Memorial School next school year. The class is a nine-week course that is perfect for delivering personal finance to middle school students. Covering nine core ideas for grades 6-8, the course will help students build core personal finance skills and learn real-world strategies they can use. Through engaging resources and activities, students will practice these skills so they can get started on the right track to effectively manage their personal finances.

View the district’s budget presentation here.