Sayreville school budget includes new hires, special education funding


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SAYREVILLE — Homeowners in the borough will see an average annual school tax increase of $79 if the current version of the budget receives final approval.

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The introduced budget was approved at the Sayreville Board of Education meeting on March 7. The general fund budget is $86,250,544, which includes the local tax levy of $60,289,602, according to Superintendent Richard Labbe. The school district debt service fund budget is $3,593,277, including a local tax levy $3,445,666, he said.

The $79 represents the increase with the maximum 2 percent cap in place, according to Daniel Balka, chairman of the Finance Committee.

Balka also highlighted some of the top initiatives for the district for the next school year, which include some personnel changes and infrastructure projects.

Transportation changes include plans to hire two new bus drivers and a bus aide. At the previous meeting, Christine Vastano, director of transportation, proposed a time change for Samsel Upper Elementary School. With that time change in place, the district, she said, could save close to $400,000.

In addition, Balka highlighted three new positions the district is looking to create: an assistant superintendent role, a director of special education and an assistant business administrator.

“We’re going to reconfigure the business office so that we can fit that in without budgeting a full position,” he explained, adding that the additional payroll would be around $15,000.

As far as overall personnel expenditures, Labbe said at the Feb. 21 meeting that figure, which makes up about 82 percent of the budget, would increase by about $3 million.

Balka said the district is also looking to allocate $100,000 for the new Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. Labbe has said the program will be integrated with science and math curriculums in grades 3-12.

The district also has infrastructure plans for its elementary schools. At Truman, cluster classes will be converted into traditional classrooms. New windows and unit ventilator replacements will be installed at Arleth, and bathroom renovations will continue at Wilson.

However, Balka said, the district is only anticipating $900,000 in extraordinary state aid, the same amount as last year. The district also has paid off some debt, the result of which will be phased in more than two years.

“We tried being conservative with the budget,” he said. “We spent a lot of hours going over it line by line.”

Labbe also discussed the budget at the Feb. 21 meeting, where he highlighted the successes within the special education portion of the budget. He said the district is improving its ability to serve the needs of special education students with the goal of keeping them in district. Although out-of-district general education placements are captured in the special education budget, overall, he said, the special education budget is down about $1 million from last year.

In addition, he said, the district is generating revenue by enrolling children from other districts whose home districts are not able to accommodate their needs.

The budget is slated for final adoption on May 2.

Labbe said if any board members have any changes, he and the Finance Committee would need to know prior to the April 17 board meeting.

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