NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — A 2017-18 school budget amounting to $39,968,069 with a local tax levy of $37,350,460 was unanimously approved on Monday by the West Essex Regional Board of Education.
The budget includes a $228,094 adjustment to the base budget for enrollment and an allowable adjustment of $70,000 to the base budget that will be used for classroom renovations in the middle school, according to the board.
According to board secretary/school business administrator Melissa Kida, the spending plan includes $6,018,683 for employee benefits and $183,370 for capital outlay.
She noted that 35.8 percent of the budget will be spent on regular education and 16.5 percent on special education.
Kida added that state aid to the district remained “flat,” while expenses for employee health plan coverage would increase at least 15 percent and at least two of the district’s bargaining units are negotiating new contracts this year.
She also pointed out that new staff members would be hired to support five new programs this year. New courses include four in the art and music category, eight new English semester courses and, in the advanced-placement category, a new course in human geography.
A total of $200,000 is being spent on technology improvements, including an iMac computer lab and the purchase of 26 new iMac computers for the high school to support some of the new courses and new software specific to the classes.
Continuous maintenance of school buildings will yield a price tag of $125,000, including replacement of existing lighting with LED lighting and many other renovations, the business administrator said.
The overall local tax levy, including debt service, will increase by 2.51 percent, which is lower than the increases for local schools in the four communities that send students to the seventh-to-12-grade regional district, Kida noted.
She estimated the annual taxes on average homes in support of the regional district as follows:
- Essex Fells—$355.31
- North Caldwell—$144.62
In response to a question from board member Judith Amorim Dias, the business administrator said the district’s insurance broker is calculating the district’s experience rating and will compare the West Essex rates paid under the state employee healthcare plan, to which the district belongs, to private plans to see if the state plan is more advantageous to the district.
To read more about this meeting, during which the high school field hockey team and others were honored by the board, click HERE.