Regional school board determines uses for state aid windfall

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Flush with an unexpected $2.8 million in additional state school aid, the East Windsor Regional School District Board of Education plans to provide property tax relief, make repairs and hire more teachers for the 2018-19 school year.

The district is receiving more money because of changes in the state aid funding formula.  District administrators anticipated receiving $21.3 million in state aid when they prepared, and subsequently adopted, the 2018-19 school district operating budget.

“We could use every dollar to hire (personnel) and to fix things,” board President Alice Weisman said during a July 25 special meeting. She added that “we should look to do as much as possible” while also providing tax relief.

Board members agreed to allocate $250,000 for property tax relief, which will result in a decrease of $10.34 for an East Windsor home assessed at the 2018 average of $258,691. The school district tax will be $5,398.

The property tax relief will result in a decrease of $29.77 for a Hightstown home assessed at the 2018 average of $212,622. The school district tax will be $4,613.

Turning to educational matters, the board plans to hire four teachers, spread among grades six through 12, to reduce class sizes. An additional kindergarten teacher will be hired at the Walter C. Black Elementary School to reduce class size.

A bilingual clerk will be hired in the Personnel Department.

There is extra money available to offer stipends to create three HIB specialist (harassment bullying and intimidation) positions at the Melvin H. Kreps Middle School, so there will be one HIB specialist at each grade level.

The extra money will also allow the district to install emergency generators at the Walter C. Black and Grace N. Rogers elementary schools, and to resolve water infiltration issues in the basement at the Grace N. Rogers Elementary School.

Board members agreed to use some of the money to cover the costs of a partial roof replacement at the Ethel McKnight Elementary School, and to fix the Hightstown High School auxiliary gym heater and to install air conditioning in the gym.

And, the four boilers at the Walter C. Black Elementary School, all of which are at least 25 years old, will be replaced.