WESTFIELD, NJ – The Westfield Board of Education met Tuesday to further discuss its proposed $103 million 2017-18 operating budget and provide a detailed, yet tentative, spend report.
After a workshop held in December, the board presented the results of its "guiding change document."
In preparing the budget, the board established a list of results parameters – the first aiming to keep technology a priority.
Currently estimated at $1,655,614, the tech improvements include replacing a 10-year-old core switch in the high school along with much-needed internet upgrades, according to the board’s business administrator, Dana Sullivan.
In addition to $880,404 going toward recurring service and software costs, the board will allocate $150,000 to new interactive projectors throughout the district.
“When we met with the principals at every school, that was their top priority for equipment for next year,” Sullivan said. “We made purchases in all of the schools for these projectors a few years ago around the same time so it’s not surprising that they are all coming to a point where they need replacement.”
The second result the board wishes to see is to stay within the two percent cap of its tax levy with regards to its operating budget.
According to Sullivan, the school tax on average homes will rise from $9,177 to $9,425, a 2.7 percent increase.
The board will also seek to budget $750,000 of fund balance as revenue, increase its emergency reserve account to $500,000, continue to source a Director of Development position and consider funding to support wellness and professional development.
The last result sought by the board is to maintain a balance in the capital reserve account sufficient to cover the cost of replacing the track and turf at Kehler Stadium.
With goals in mind, the board also outlined unacceptable means in which they are achieved.
The board will aim to:
- Not increase class size
- Not reduce the two percent budget held in fund balance for emergencies
- Not make reductions that are inequitable
- Not eliminate courses recently approved by the board
- Not reduce funding for a school resource officer ($50,000)
- Not reduce master tech teachers
In total, the board is expecting a $1,947,783 increase to the operating budget in 2017-18, to $103,317, 273. The cost per pupil in Westfield ($13,434) is the fourth lowest compared to 12 other similar school districts, according to the NJDOE.
The board will finalize its budget and present it on March 14, with the possibility of state aid information coming in the first week of March. The deadline to submit the budget to the Union County Superintendent is March 20, 2017.