NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education unanimously voted on Monday to approve the 2019-2020 school budget that takes effect on July 1. According to the board, the operating budget is totaled at $45,232,743—representing an increase of $971,509 (or 2.19 percent) over the 2018-2019 budget.

Employee health costs increased 7.5 percent from last year, and a waiver of $86,285 was incorporated into the budget as allowed by state law. The board also noted that state aid to the district increased by $181,763 (or 8.88 percent) from last year.

Approximately 92.5 percent of the school budget is funded by the local tax levy, with the remaining 7.5 percent realized through federal grants and entitlements and state aid, in addition to revenue realized through local initiatives. 

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The impact to the average assessed home in Caldwell will be an increase of $55 (or .97 percent) due to increased ratables. The residents of West Caldwell will see an increase of $137 annually (or 2.34 percent) due to the township’s increased portion of total ratables between the two towns.

The agenda for Monday’s budget presentation included the objectives and context of the budget as well as the items contained in the upcoming budget, including highlights; sources of funding; expenditures by type; impact on the local taxpayer; noteworthy facts; cost containment and revenue generation; and the impact on the students.

Plans to continue goals from the 2018-1019 budget include all current subject areas as well as special areas such as music, fine arts and consumer sciences. Investment in the STEM programs, extracurricular, athletic and arts programs, emphasis on student academic growth, requiring staff development, efforts to bring special education programs in-district when feasible and efforts to bring transportation in-district when feasible are also included in the goals.

One specific area of note within the budget included a decrease of $39,834 (or -1.26 percent) for central office staffing costs.

“It is our goal to put back more money into the classroom,” said Business Administrator Thomas Lambe, who presented the budget to the board and public.

A savings of $91,674 (or -6.56 percent) was realized providing more in-district busing in addition to providing better service.

Funding for athletics and extracurricular activities remained flat while still providing current offerings. Capital outlay for facility needs realized a decrease of $467,890 (or -89.30 percent) from the current year, as kindergarten renovations, the Washington parking lot paving, Wilson repairs and bus purchases were included in the 2018-2019 budget.

In other news, the board of education also approved the negotiated agreement between with the Caldwell-West Caldwell Administrators’ Association, effective from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2022. 

There will be an annual increase of 3 percent for salaries, and employees will continue to contribute the maximum amount of contributions to the health plan that was enacted by law in 2011.

The next board of education meeting will held on May 13.