Board of Education Budget Discussion Continues


SPARTA, NJ- The Sparta Board of Education approved the tentative budget last week to be submitted for preliminary approval by the County Superintendent Rosalie Lamonte.  The vote was 7-2, with Brenda Beebe and Kim Yoemans voting against the proposal. 

This initial budget includes a two percent levy increase as allowed by law with an additional $700 thousand from the banked cap.  Offsetting the impact of the levy increase is the closeout of Fund 30, the budget established to fund the voter approved high school reconstruction project.  This brings the impact of the levy increase to approximately 1.8 percent.

According to municipal budget documentation, a two percent increase to the school budget will equate to $251.03 per average home.  The average residential home in Sparta for 2014 is assessed at $295,900, as determined by the municipality.   To add the full amount of the banked cap funds of $1,033,000 would add approximately $60 to the levy for  that same average home.

Sign Up for E-News

Ignoring the recommendation of the district administrators, five board members, Beebe, Richard Bladek,  Frank Favichia, Jack Surdoval and Yoemans voted against using all of the banked cap funds to allow Sparta to have a full-day kindergarten program for the 2014-2015 school year.  Instead, the board voted to use $700 thousand of the banked cap funds for unnamed capital improvements. 

Inquiries were made with the board of education business office as to the specifics of those items to be funded with the $700 thousand banked cap funds.  Board officials responded that they "will not disclose an itemized  list of (those) expenditures ,"  at this time.  In the power point from the budget meeting there was a slide of capital improvements that included:

  • $700 thousand to replace the track,
  • $990 thousand for unnamed Capital and Maintenance Priority Projects ,
  • $351 thousand for the district share of Security Cameras and
  • $125 thousand for other Security Projects

The total of those expenditures is $2,166,475.


 Also on that slide were the Capital Reserve and Maintenance Reserve funds to be used to pay for that list of capital improvements.  Those reserve funds totaled only $1,125,754.  The assumption is that the balance of funding to complete all of the listed capital projects would come from the $700 thousand banked cap.

Any of the banked cap funds that are not used in the 2014-15 budget will no longer be available.  So far, this board has decided to only use $700 thousand, meaning the balance, $333,000, will disappear.  If, in the future, the district decides, or is required by the state to provide a full-day kindergarten program, the district will have to find the additional funds by cutting staff and program to make up the difference, according to statements made by Superintendent Dennis Tobin.  

This week Hopatcong approved a full-day kindergarten program for next year.  Sparta is now one of only three districts in Sussex county without a full-day program.  Greater than 80 percent of all districts in the state have full-day kindergarten this year, according to the State Department of Education data.

There are reductions to the budget to stay within the mandated levy cap.  These reductions include a supervisor and three elementary teachers, unemployment funding, end of life replacement of a bus and technology, adjustments per contractual agreements and others, equating to $1,382,293.

The proposed budget shows the expenditures  broken down as follows:

  • 75   percent of Expenditures go to Salaries and Benefits,
  • 6.3  percent for Transportation,
  • 5.7  percent for Maintenance, Custodian and Security,
  • 5.5  percent for Special Education Tuition (out of district placements),
  • 1.9  percent for Regular Education,
  • 1.7  percent for Administration and Technology,
  • 1.6  percent for Equipment and Capital,
  •   .6  percent for Charter School,
  •   .4  percent for Athletics and Co-curriculars,
  •   .3  percent for Nurses, Guidance, Child Study Team, Media
  •   .2  percent for Curriculum and Instruction,


An earlier presentation of the draft budget broke it out slightly differently:

  • Salaries and benefits 79.3 percent
  • Special Education, Basic Skills and Tuition 4.3 percent
  • Regular Education 1.5 percent

According to State Department of Education data for 2013, Sparta had 536 students receiving special education services, including the pre-kindergarten students.  That equates to 15.34 percent of the total student population of 3494.  The budget presentation showed $1.9 million budgeted for Special Education out of district placements.  The published User Friendly budget for 2013-14 shows 12 Pupils Sent to Other Districts-Special Education Program.  The proposed budget presentation  includes two additional pupils sent out of district.

Sparta has a long history of being frugal, with per pupil spending near the bottom of every comparison.  Two years ago the state began using an additional number for comparison, inflated to include the state contribution for retirement benefits such as pension and health insurance coverage among other items.  It is the Budgetary Per Pupil Cost, however, that has been the accepted number of comparison for at least two decades to evaluate per pupil expenditures.   

Most recent data from NJDOE Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending  for 2012-2013 shows Sparta spends $13,707 per pupil.  Sparta is the lowest in Sussex county with High Point Regional HS at $19,212, Vernon $16,532, Wallkill Regional HS $15,788, Lenape Valley Regional HS $15,645  Hopatcong $15,284, Kittatinny Regional HS $15,207, and Newton $14,701.

As for the K-12 "I" districts selected for the comparison at the budget presentation, Sparta remains at the bottom of Budgetary Per Pupil Costs; Kinnelon $14,424, Montville $14,269, Boonton $13,817.   Randolph $13,802,  Madison $13,731. Of the schools included in this grouping, however, only Montville and Randolph are K-12 district with 3500+ students, the same grouping as Sparta.  Kinnelon and Madison have only 1801-3500 pupils, Boonton is a K-8 district with only 410-750 students. 

There is a board of education meeting scheduled for Monday, March 24 at Mohawk Avenue School, beginning at 7:30.  The budget is on the agenda for further discussion. 


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Drunk Brooklyn Man Asks Police to Shoot Him

May 20, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A Brooklyn man was taken for observation when he asked police to shoot him after having crashed his car down an embankment on County Road 517 near the Sparta Middle School.  On May 17 around 2:06 a.m. Sparta Police Officers Brian Porter and Timothy Lynott found Joshua Lindland of Brooklyn asleep in the driver’s seat of a gray Audi against a tree, police ...

Sparta Police: Passengers Face Drug Charges in Traffic Stop

SPARTA, NJ – Two Wantage women face drug charges after the car they were in was stopped for a broken headlight on Route 15.  On May 5 around 2 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin pulled over Alex Torres, 22, driving a white Honda Accord with two passengers, police say.

The officer saw a metal marijuana grinder behind the driver’s seat.  The car and ...

JCP&L Latest Information, Free Ice and Water

SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ – As of 8:47 p.m. JCP&L is reporting 12,745 customers or 22.11 percent, are without power in Sussex County.  In Sparta 2749 or 32 percent remain in the dark.

JCP&L said they anticipate the “vast majority of the remaining customers to be restored to service by late Thursday.”

JCP&L customers without power can get ice and water ...

Ethical Or Political Stunt

May 20, 2018

On May 9th Sussex County Freeholder Director Jonathon Rose announced formation of the Sussex County Transparency Committee. A committee established to monitor the ethics of County politicians.  

Alarming is what was left out of this announcement. Besides naming the dynamic duo Lazzaro and Graham, two other names show cause for curiosity. Jonathon never acknowledged, nor did he ...

Support for Fantasia and Hertzberg for Freeholder

Dear Editor:

My name is Stephen Skellenger, and I’m writing what is my first Letter to the Editor to emphatically endorse Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg for Sussex County Freeholder. With these two, you are going to get uniquely-qualified individuals who exemplify servant leadership.

Josh is someone who seems to me to be a person who would give the shirt off his back to help anyone.

Upcoming Events


Sat, May 26, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Sat, June 2, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market


Sat, June 9, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Sat, June 16, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Thu, June 21, 2:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Summer Afternoon Garden Soiree

Home & Garden


Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Sat, June 30, 9:00 AM

Sparta Health and Wellness parking lot, Sparta

Sparta Farmers Market

Newton's Petition to Move Election Certified, Tabled to May 30 by Council

May 15, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—The petition to move elections from May to November was certified by the clerk and presented to the Newton Town Council at the meeting on Monday night.  The petition has been circulating since April and was a point of controversy in the recent council election campaigns.

According to the town attorney, the town clerk certified “369 valid signatures of qualified ...

10-Year Old Boy Battling Cancer Receives Generous Donation From Randolph Hockey Family

May 20, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real life battles off the ice there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the Randolph Varsity hockey team, when they came together to deliver good wishes and ...

Find Your Dream Home During Our DOUBLE Open House Weekend!

The forecast for this weekend is rain, rain, and more rain---so why not spend your time touring your new home?  Team Nest Builder offers 2 wonderful Open Houses this weekend, PLUS a new listing for you to check out via video tour!

27 Hilltop Trail, Sparta

Step into your own fairytale with this Lake Mohawk, storybook-sweet 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom gem! Gather in front of the rustic ...

Help Feed Hungry Sussex County Families Through Foodstock

Did you realize food pantry shortages INCREASE during the summer months? Decreased donations and increased need due to the summer break from school lunch and breakfast programs leave many Sussex County families hungry.  

Enter Foodstock:  an annual spring countywide food drive started 15 years ago through the coordinated efforts of Pass it Along, United Way of Northern New Jersey, ...

3 Tips for Making Your Home-Ownership Dream a Reality


Here's Highlights:

Setting up an automatic savings plan that saves a small amount of every check = one of the best ways to save without thinking much about it.

Living within a budget right now helps you save money for down payments while also paying down other debts holding you back.  What are you willing to cut back on to make your dreams of homeownership ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!


SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

We Do This Work Because We Care

May 19, 2018

Sussex NJ – We Do This Work Because We Care

Project Help, Inc., is a 501(c)3 Charity whose mission is to help veterans and their families during difficult times. They assist veterans in New Jersey’s seven northern counties in getting back on their feet. 

“We work very hard to be able to sustain our veterans as they struggle with the many issues that are holding them ...