FREEHOLD – The Freehold Borough K-8 School District Board of Education has introduced a $27.6 million budget that will pay for the operation of the school district during the 2018-19 school year.
Following a discussion among district administrators and board members at a March 19 meeting, the budget was introduced. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 7 and the board may adopt the budget that evening.
The $27.6 million budget, which can be amended prior to its final adoption, will be supported by a tax levy of $11.8 million to be paid by the borough’s residential and commercial property owners. Other revenue includes $635,048 from the district’s surplus (savings) account.
The school district’s 2017-18 budget totaled $26.5 million and was supported by a tax levy of $11.24 million. The average home was assessed at $252,477 and the school tax rate was $1.14 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of that home paid $2,878 in K-8 school taxes.
For 2018-19, the school tax rate will decrease to $1.12 and the average home assessment is estimated at $255,415. The owner of that home will pay $2,860, according to district administrators.
School taxes are one component of a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes and Freehold Borough municipal taxes. Individuals pay more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of their home and/or property.
Administrators said $11.23 million in state aid will support the $27.6 million budget for 2018-19, which includes $9.1 million in equalization aid. The 2017-18 budget was supported by $10.7 million in state aid, which included $955,793 that was awarded to the district after the budget was adopted.
Although the amount of state aid has increased for the upcoming school year, the state aid being delivered from Trenton is a source of concern to district administrators. They said the $9.1 million in equalization aid for 2018-19 is $12.2 million less than what Freehold Borough is owed under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008.
The district’s enrollment stands at about 1,700 pupils.
“This initial budget represents the best budget we can put together with the amount of state aid assigned for our use,” Superintendent of Schools Rocco Tomazic said. “The district is owed over $12 million in state aid per the state funding law. That is the number that represents the district being fully funded.
“Receiving an increase this year of only $534,991 in additional aid is barely sufficient to keep our head above water. Freehold is actively pursuing more state aid for fiscal year 2019. The arbitrary method that aid continues to be distributed by is injurious to our students,” Tomazic said.