SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – At a Committee of the Whole meeting May 1, the South Plainfield Board of Education approved, by a vote of 6-0, its 2019-2020 spending plan; board members Debbie Boyle, John Farinella, and Sharon Miller were not present. 

"We feel this budget is fiscally responsibly and allows us to maintain all of current district programs, clubs, sports, and activities while also addressing exciting instructional initiatives…” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak.

The $67,849,502 budget allocates funds for pre-K through 12th grade instructional programs; special services; technology – including bringing the one-on-one initiative to both the middle and high school; security – including equipment such as upgraded security cameras and additional school resource officers; athletics and extracurricular activities; maintenance/buildings and grounds; transportation – including the purchase of three seatbelt equipped buses; and capital projects. 

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Additionally, the budget calls for the addition of A.M. science labs; a part-time ESL teacher; renovation of the high school’s food lab/culinary arts classroom; installation of carbon monoxide detectors at the high school and Roosevelt School; ceiling and lightning replacement in the high school information center; replacing the sound system at the high school and middle school; creating a greenhouse at the high school (offset by a $5,000 grant from Investor’s Bank over the next two school years); upgrading lightning throughout the district; and the purchase of a salt briner, along with other projects and/or programs.

According to Business Administrator Alex Benanti, the district is anticipating a state aid reimbursement of $11,540,094 – a $180,963 decrease over the current year. While fund balances and other miscellaneous revenue account for an additional $4,112,845, the remaining $52,196,563 will be offset through taxes. 

Based on a school tax rate of approximately .03627, the average tax increase – based on a home assessed at $122,654 – will be around $120 attributable to new debt service costs. However, Benanti said, relief is coming in about two years with the expiration of the Roosevelt School debt payment bond on July 15, 2021. 

The South Plainfield School District, as of April 1, has 506 full-time employees and anticipates student enrollment to be 3,571 among its seven schools for 2019-2020 with the average cost per pupil $16,496. 

“I’d like to thank our board members for supporting the 2019-2020 budget…[they] were very involved with the development of the budget and always have the students best interest in mind when allocating funds to the various curriculum and facilities projects,” said Lishak.  “The board was adamant about not cutting any program in place; they wanted to maintain and add to the curriculum portion of the budget.”

“Every year, it is hard to do the budget when there’s a 2-percent limit you can increase by and then the state turns around and reduces your funding, it is never easy,” said BOE President Doug Chapman, commending both the administration and the board finance committee, including BOE Vice President Tom Cassio who serves as its chair. “You all did a stellar job. It’s a solid budget and I think the district is in a really good place right now.”

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