SPARTA, NJ- Governor Murphy has released school aid numbers on Thursday.  Sparta will again see a reduction in aid.  The preliminary state aid figures show Sparta will receive $5,629,268 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Sparta’s aid includes:

  • Equalization Aid $2,218,06
  • Transportation Aid $1,128,376
  • Special Education Aid $2,030,137
  • Security Aid $252,688

This represents a 2.87% decrease from 2019-2020 fiscal year and 5.8% decrease since 2017-2018 fiscal year.

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At the February board of education meeting President Kim Bragg brought up the budget under Old Business, asking if board members had questions about the process.  She said, "The full board should have a say in the process.”

Superintendent Michael Rossi said he had shared a list of the principal's budget requests.  He told the board members the list was “above what it takes to currently deliver education.”  He said it was "a recommendation on which to build upon."

Board member Kurt Morris asked if the budget would only be discussed in the Finance Committee. Rossi said last year they told board members they could come to them to ask questions.

“When it came to the [public] budget meeting there were no questions,” Rossi said.  “That’s what you’re hoping for.”

Morris said, “I have confidence in the finance committee but I think there is value in having the discussion as a whole.”

Bragg agreed. “We can all benefit from a public discussion of the budget.”

Board member Joanne Hoover said there could be discussion when the preliminary budget is presented on March 16.  

“I don’t necessarily need to know everyone’s questions,” board member Jason Ventresca said. “Questions come from a lack of understanding.  We shouldn’t make the public sit through a long meeting if questions come from a lack of understanding.”

Business Administrator Pam Hinman said the budget was due to the Executive County Superintendent’s office by March 20.  She said the district was “going to cap, using banked cap and losing state aid as part of Governor Murphy’s five year plan.”

Last year, board members asked a number of questions at the preliminary budget meeting.  The sketch of the budget presented by Rossi only included staffing changes.  It did not include details about facility expenditures or other initiatives. 

At that meeting Business Administrator Pam Hinman said she “could not give any additional details until the budget was approved,” by the county office.  Hinman told the board the only thing they were voting on was the single slide of her presentation.  That slide included the previous year’s figures for the Tax Levy, a 2% Increase, Banked Cap and theTotal Levy.  Hinman said that was all she would release because she “didn’t want a multitude of budget summaries floating around.”

Board Policy 6220 says, in part, “A proposed budget requires the critical analysis of every member of the Board during its preparation. The administration shall work with the Board to ensure Board members have a thorough understanding of the budget appropriations, the budget revenue, the proposed educational program and the budget’s impact to the local tax levy. The Board shall also provide for community input during the budget development process.”

Policy 6220 also says the “budget will be presented to the board of education to allow adequate time for review and adoption.”

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 16, at Mohawk Avenue School.  The meeting was rescheduled from March 23 because of the budget deadline.