SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ – The proposed $86.4 million Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education (BOE) budget for 2015-16 presented to the PTA Council on Wednesday, March 25 calls for seven new hires, as well as a high school science lab renovation, a boiler unit at Park Middle School, security and bathroom upgrades and other improvements.
 
The BOE is also looking into expansion plans for existing schools in order to introduce full-day kindergarten by the 2016-17 academic year.
 
 
BOE Business Administrator Deborah Saridaki presented the anticipated budget at the BOE's offices and outlined revenue and expenses in detail. Next year's figure of $86,360,285 is an increase from this year's $84,140,956 budget. The budget assumes salary increases and a 16% increase in healthcare costs. Salaries comprise 57% of the BOE budget, while benefits account for 19% of the total, followed by special education services, instructional support, transportation of students, and building maintenance. 
 
“Using banked cap from the 2012-2013 budget, the board has identified $779,415 that can be used next year. The board is recommending using this banked cap for the staffing requirements and construction projects required to eventually provide full-day kindergarten," Saridaki said. "We are one of the few districts that does not offer it."

 
The BOE is looking to make the following seven new hires: a high school phys ed teacher, middle school basic skills teacher, middle school nurse, middle school special education teacher and aide (self-contained), a supervisor of special education and a supervisor of elementary school education. 
 
Funding covers high school science lab renovation, a boiler unit for Park Middle School, asbestos remediation, parking lot paving, security upgrades, high school wireless improvements, and bathroom  upgrades. The spending plan allows for  textbook updates in zoology, forensic science, social studies, health (grades 9-12), and elementary school music.
 
If approved, the school budget will cost the taxpayers of Scotch Plains $65,484,279 (a $285.50 hike for each household). The tax increase for Fanwood residents will be $18,027,754 ($51.96 hike for each Fanwood home). State aid figures will be the same this year's. 
 
There are 5,550 students in the SPFK-12 district in 2015. During the presentation, Saridaki and Schools Superintendent Dr. Margaret Hayes highlighted some of the top district's achievers, including:
  • 2015 National Hispanic Recognition Program scholar Eric Calvo,
  • Eight students commended by the National Merit Scholarship Program,
  • SPFHS valedictorian Deniele Scheu and salutatorian Michael Lang,
  • The State Championship won by the Girls Swim Team,
  • Brian Lapham's new record for career wrestling victories,
  • "Athlete of the Week" honors for swimmer Alex Skoog, and
  • The district's widely recognized music program, including the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Marching Band's National Championship.
The BOE will hold two more budget presentation on Wednesday, April 1 and on Tuesday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. The public hearing for final adoption of the budget will take place on Thursday, April 23 at 8 p.m.