BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Bernards Township schools will dip into its “savings” to deal with the loss of state aid it had expected to receive for the 2020-21 year.

On July 20, the state Department of Education notified the Bernards Township Board of Education that its anticipated categorical state aid for fiscal year 2020-21 was reduced by $430,992.

The district learned following the governor’s budget message in late February to expect $5,298,378 in aid. Bernards Township built a $107 million budget, passed in May, using that figure in its revenue estimates.

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Now the district is told to anticipate receiving $4,867,386.

The state faces a fiscal emergency. Gov. Phil Murphy is cutting about $335 million in proposed aid to school districts as the state grapples with higher expenses and loss of revenue, largely from complications of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The aid reduction is about 3.7 percent from the February numbers. The state would still spend as much on K-12 schools statewide as it did in the 2019-20 school year.

The aid reduction is not final until the state approves its own budget, which it has deferred until Sept. 30, said Business Administrator Roderic McLaughlin. 

At this time the district has not proposed to cut the budget approved in May, he said. Instead, the board voted July 23, in accordance with state guidance, to approve a resolution restructuring the budget approved in May and appropriating $430,992 from its unassigned general fund surplus to maintain budgeted appropriations.

Bernards Township received 2019-20 aid of $4,666,622, so the new amount would be 4.3 percent more.