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Plumsted Board of Education adopts $25.2 million budget

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By Andrew Martins
Staff Writer

PLUMSTED – A pair of unexpected repairs in the Plumsted Township School District increased the 2016-17 school budget by more than $500,000 prior to its final adoption by the Board of Education.

Administrators said the additional expenditure will not increase the amount the amount of taxes the board had already planned to collect from Plumsted’s residential and commercial property owners during the next year.

Business Administrator Sean Gately said about $677,000 of the $25.2 million budget will be used to pay for repairs that officials determined are needed at the New Egypt High School track and tennis courts.

“The tennis courts are in pretty bad shape. They were fine last year, we had them patched, but the winter caused a lot of heaving and these cracks have spread,” Gately said. “The track is probably about a year or so away from being in worse condition, where we would be in the same boat as we are with the tennis courts and have a much greater expense.”

When the budget was introduced in March, capital improvements totaled $176,867. The revised total of $677,000 still includes the installation of new LED lights at the high school parking lot and the replacement of carpeting and flooring in the main office at the high school and at the New Egypt Middle School.

In order to pay for the repairs to the track and the tennis courts, Gately said federal impact aid was budgeted for $500,000 to pay for capital improvements.

Plumsted receives federal aid because much of the land in the municipality is part of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

“Part of the reason we are able to do that is because the federal government has caught up on all of the prior years when it did not close out its funding,” Gately said. “We are pretty current with our impact aid funding.”

The budget that was introduced in March totaled $24.5 million. The budget the board adopted on May 4 totaled $25.2 million. The tax levy to support the spending plan will be $12.4 million.

The district’s 2015-16 budget totaled $24.2 million and was supported by the collection of $12.1 million in local school property taxes.

The school district tax rate will increase from $1.543 per $100 of assessed valuation in 2015-16 to $1.585 per $100 of assessed valuation in 2016-17.

In 2015, the average home in Plumsted was assessed at $279,100 and the owner of that home paid about $4,306 in school taxes. In 2016, the average home in Plumsted is assessed at $279,293 and the owner of that home will pay about $4,425 in school taxes.

Plumsted residents pay more or less in school taxes depending on the assessment of the property they own.

School taxes are one component of a property owner’s total tax bill. In addition to school taxes, property owners also pay Plumsted municipal taxes, Ocean County taxes and other assessments.

The school district will receive $11.56 million in state aid in 2016-17, which is about $27,000 more than the district received in state aid in 2015-16.

Gately said administrators are planning to hire an applied behavior analysis teacher and three full-time paraprofessionals at the New Egypt Primary School.

At New Egypt High School, administrators are planning to hire one full-time English teacher and one full-time science teacher.

Administrators are looking to hire a part-time science and mathematics supervisor of instruction to support those departments throughout the district. If an individual is hired for that position it will result in the elimination of lead teacher positions at the high school.

Administrators said a district English as a Second Language teaching position will be eliminated because plans call for existing ESL teachers to assume the responsibilities of the district position.

The 2016-17 budget will cover ongoing maintenance of equipment and software, an infrastructure upgrade, the purchase of additional devices for the high school and the support of statewide computer-based assessments.

At the New Egypt Primary School, the district will implement an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program, using the new ABA teacher, while the Dr. Gerald H. Woehr Elementary School will introduce a Fundations phonics program for pupils in grades four and five.

New instructional programs at the New Egypt Middle School will be in social studies (grades six through eight), and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (grades six through eight).

Curriculum changes at the high school include new instructional programs, including social studies (grades nine through 12), a language arts literacy novels program for seniors, a STEM Engineering Academy, a Teacher Academy, an SAT course, a college English course and online materials for science.

Prior to the budget’s adoption, board President Sandra Soles praised the efforts of the district’s department heads, as well as Gately and the administration, for crafting the budget.

“Students were the focus” for the budget, Soles said. “I look forward to watching all those things become a reality for the upcoming school year.”

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