Business & Finance

Plainfield School District Financial Overview at Tues. Board of Ed Meeting

d91a1c2f10e310dc2190_IMG_2829.JPG
d91a1c2f10e310dc2190_IMG_2829.JPG

PLAINFIELD, NJ - Business Administrator Gary Ottmann of the Plainfield School District gave an overview of the district's finances at Tuesday's Work & Study Meeting.

Ottmann began by sharing slides from a meeting he, along with Attorney Phil Stern, then Board of Education President Emily Morgan, and board member Carmencita Pile had had in Trenton in June 2017 with the Commissioner of Education.  During the meeting, they reviewed district challenges, some, Ottmann said, that are due to decisions made by the Department of Education over the years.

Speaking tonight, Ottmann said one of the challenges for the district for the current year was an $8 million deficit.  "Luckily we did receive over $2 million in additional state aid in July.  We used the insurance proceeds from 504 Madison, we eliminated 65 positions, we cut ten percent in supply money from all schools and departments, and we had savings from transportation.  So when all was said and done, we entered the current year with a balanced budget."

Sign Up for E-News

He said they had pointed out to the commissioner the challenges of having charter schools in the district.  There are five in Union County, all of which are in Plainfield. 

In tonight's overview, he said, "As you can see, in two years, the growth in our charter school payments of over $6.6 million, +41% in two years, you can see further out when we're talking about this year's budget that we're looking at a substantial increase for next year as well."

While charter school payments went up $6.6 million, the state aid, upon which the district is so dependent, only went up two percent in that same period, or $2.5 million. 

Ottman continued, saying that district enrollment growth is up 27% over eight years, from 6,372 students in April 2009 to 8,112 students in April 2017.  However, he said, the bad thing is that the state hasn't been living up to its funding formula.

So as of this year, according to the formula from the Educational Law Center, Ottmann said the district has been shorted $112 million.  "But this year alone, per the formula, we're shorted $62 million."

Another challenge, he said, is that because the tax base has been so low for so many years, when you do a two percent increase, that amount generates less than half a million dollars.

And the fund balance is yet another concern.  "We've been going to the piggy bank every year to balance our budget.  This year, we took $6 million out of the piggy bank."

Ottmann said that when they presented to the commissioner back in June, at that time they had anticipated for FY19, which starts in July, that "we would have zero."

Last year, he said they told the commissioner there would be a projected $11 million deficit as of July 1 if there was no change in state aid.

Next year's proposed budget is $199,654,317, an increase of $5,789,705, or three percent.

The bad news is that there are no new positions, no new programs.  "This is strictly a maintenance budget.  Which you'll see will be hard to maintain." 

Ottmann also noted it's hard to plan the expenditure side of a budget when you don't know what your revenue side is.  But he said the district is fairly certain of the federal and local monies.

Federal is anticipated to go up less than $20,000 as a result of Medicaid reimbursements.  The local revenue is projected to decrease $5 million.  The big question mark is what's going to go in the state column.

Revenue Comparison

FY18

FY19

Federal

$4,338,727

$4,357,055

Local

$39,415,559

$34,279,905

State

$150,110,326

?

A two percent tax levy increase is being recommended.  "We've raised taxes 37% since 2008, and with the new federal tax laws limiting your deductions, we just think it's problematic to go more than two percent."

He reiterated that the district used $6 million to balance the budget, leaving $498,499 in the piggy bank, to be used for the FY18-19 budget, which is increased by $5,789,705.  Four categories are budget drivers:

  • Charter schools:  $2,815,618
  • Salaries, including PEA and PASA contracts:  $2,369,000
  • Prescription coverage:  $325,709
  • Tuitions:  $279,378

The state will dictate the exact amount but right now the FY19 budget for charter schools is $25,000,000, an increase of $2,815,618.  Ottmann said that both Cresthaven Academy and College Achieve are each adding another grade.

It was also noted that the charter school budget comes directly from the state.

The FY19 budget for salaries is $83,646,453, an increase of $2,369,000; the prescription coverage budget is $4,536,000, an increase of 52% in four years.  And the tuition budget is $14,447,127, an increase of two percent.

There was some good news in the form of proposed capital projects:

  • Cafetorium addition at Barlow
  • Cafeteria renovation at Hubbard
  • Cafetorium air conditioning at Stillman
  • Locker replacements at secondary schools
  • Locker room renovation at PHS
  • Elevator replacement at PHS
  • Pool renovation at PHS
  • Stairwell renovation at PHS 1916

The user friendly budgetpdf is available on the district's website. 

Next steps include a special budget meeting on Thursday, March 15 when the district learns the amount of state aid it will receive, and the amount of money that will be needed for charter schools. 

A preliminary budget adoption will take place on March 20, and the final budget adoption date is May 8.

(State Funding Formula)

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Register Today for Summer Youth Courses Offered at Union County College

June 23, 2018

CRANFORD, NJ – This summer the Office of Continuing Education at Union County College is expanding its course offerings for youth ages 11-18. Classes are taught by NJ-certified teachers and subject matter experts that specialize in delivering high-quality youth programs. Classes begin the week of June 25 and run through August 23.

Classes offered include Introduction to Musical Theater, ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

Murphy Signs Bill Ending Child Marriage Championed by Westfield’s Fraidy Reiss and Unchained at Last

June 23, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill Friday that bars individuals under the age of 18 from marrying or entering a civil union. It was a major win for Fraidy Reiss, founder Westfield-based Unchained At Last, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls in the US to escape or resist arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives.

This makes New Jersey the second ...

SRO'S - ENSEÑANDO POR EJEMPLO

June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...