HomeTri-TownTri-Town NewsPublic hearing on Jackson school budget set for April 24

Public hearing on Jackson school budget set for April 24

JACKSON – The Jackson School District Board of Education has scheduled a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. April 24 on a $153.83 million budget the board has introduced for the 2018-19 school year.

The meeting will take place in the Fine Arts Center of Jackson Memorial High School, Don Connor Boulevard. The board may adopt the budget following the public hearing.

District administrators said the budget supports curriculum and safety projects, but limits investments in other areas due to rising costs. The budget may be amended until the date of the public hearing.

Jackson’s residential and commercial property owners are projected to pay $91.3 million in property taxes to support the school district during 2018-19. The district’s total budget for 2017-18 was $151.16 million and the total tax levy was $88.5 million.

Administrators said that for 2018-19, the district will use a state permitted waiver because it is facing healthcare costs that exceed the state’s 2 percent cap on the general fund tax levy.

The school tax rate for 2018-19 is projected to be $1.33 per $100 of assessed valuation, which is an increase from $1.31 per $100 in 2017-18. The owner of a home assessed at $200,000 will pay $2,660 in school taxes in 2018-19, the owner of a home assessed at $400,000 will pay $5,320, and the owner of a home assessed at $500,000 will pay $6,650.

During 2017-18, the school taxes on those $200,000, $400,000 and $500,000 assessments were $2,620, $5,240 and $6,550, respectively.

Helping to offset costs for taxpayers in 2018-19 is a $486,500 increase in state aid, which at a less than 1 percent increase is still the biggest state aid increase Jackson has seen in six years, according to district administrators. Administrators are also returning $378,504 in unused funds from an old bond question to reduce the district’s debt service tax levy.

“Given rising health insurance and other costs, it took a lot of work and a lot of hard choices to get to this budget,’’ Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco said.

In accordance with the district’s five-year curriculum plan, the tentative budget includes investments in the district’s math curriculum in grades six through 12, as well as district-wide programs in media, technology and business. It also supports programs related to responsive classroom training, which provides practical strategies to emphasize social, emotional and academic growth in a strong, safe school community, according to district administrators.

“We are able to make investments in our curriculum and to continue safety and security projects, but we had to dial back a number of other elements of our facilities improvement and technology plans,” Genco said.

The superintendent said the tentative budget provides maintenance and investments in the district’s technology infrastructure, but does not include additional Promethean boards (interactive whiteboards) requested by the technology department.

The spending plan includes the last phase of the district’s plan to install a security vestibule at each school and to accomplish limited facilities improvements such as re-siding modular classrooms, window projects, parking lot repairs and electrical work.

“We scaled down our budgets and our facilities improvements drastically, which is discouraging, but was necessary for this year,” Genco said. “We are doing what we need to do to provide a safe learning environment, but just like many homeowners need to prioritize and strategize for another day, so do we. We are not finished trying to find ways to maximize every dollar entrusted to us. This is still a work in progress and will be right up until the public hearing.”

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