Bernards Schools Propose 2013-14 Budget with 1.54 Percent Increase
Proposed $94.2-million school budget would maintain all programs in the school district.
The Bernards Township Board of Education on Monday introduced a proposal for $94.2 million to finance the township's six schools in 2013-14, of which taxpayers would fund $77.4 million, with a 1.54 percent overall increase, according to the school's figures.
That would translate into an estimated $158 annual increase in school taxes on an average township home assessed at $587,554, said Rod McLaughlin, school business administrator.
The tentative general fund budget figure for next year is $86,949,699, up from $86,181,957 in 2012-13, according to the school's figures. The total budget for the 2012-13 school year, including debt payments, is $93.26 million, according to school figures released last year.
Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian said the proposed budget keeps all of the district's main programs and staffing, including the nine-period day at Ridge High School, full-day kindergarten in the district's four elementary schools and the William Annin Middle School "teams" as well as a nine-period day in that school, as well.
The new school budget does call for the addition of four more special education teachers, including two at the high school, Markarian said.
Although a state aid figure of $3 million for next year can be considered to be fairly solid, an anticipated figure of $1.39 million in anticipated federal funds might change before the budget comes up for a public hearing and final vote on March 28, McLaughlin said.
The federal sequestration process under way to cut money from the federal budget can be expected to reduce that figure, but McLaughlin said he can't yet say how much. He said he hopes the district will have a firmer idea of the impact of cuts at the federal level by March 28.
Some of the anticipated federal education cuts — such as a reduction in the Head Start program — wouldn't apply in Bernards, McLaughlin said.
The 2 percent cap on spending increases allowed by the state was brought down a little by a reduction in the amount that the township will spend on debt payments next year, school officials said.
Refinancing of bonds outstanding from the last major construction project in Bernards schools cut about a quarter million dollars from debt payments, McLaughlin said.
The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, at the Performing Arts Center at Ridge High School, 268 S. Finley Ave.