Manalapan-Englishtown school board introduces budget for 2019-20 school year

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The Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District Board of Education has introduced a $93.44 million budget to fund the operation of the district from July 1, 2019. through June 30, 2020. The budget was introduced by the board on March 19.

Board President Dotty Porcaro, Vice President Lori Semel and board members Jim Raffone, Janet Lewis, Brian Graime, Christine Parisi, Joanne Schechter and Gerald Bruno voted “yes” on a motion to introduce the budget. Board member Joe Tringali was absent.

The budget will be supported by the collection of $68.3 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners in Manalapan and Englishtown. Taxpayers in the two communities will fund approximately 73 percent of the budget.

The 2019-20 school year will see a continuing reduction in the district’s state aid in accordance with legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018. State aid to the district will decline by $1.54 million, from $18.77 million in 2018-19 to $17.23 million in 2019-20.

The reduction in state aid to the school district is expected to continue through the 2024-25 school year in accordance with that law, which is known as S-2, according to district administrators.

The school district’s 2018-19 budget totaled $94 million. Residential and commercial property owners in Manalapan and Englishtown paid $67 million in taxes to support the spending plan.

The total budget for 2019-20 is down $560,000 from 2018-19, but the revenue to be derived from taxes has increased by $1.3 million.

Information regarding the impact of the 2019-20 budget on property taxes in Manalapan and Englishtown will be available when a public hearing on the budget is held at 7:30 p.m. May 7 at the school district’s administrative offices at 54 Main St., Englishtown. The budget may be revised until the public hearing is held.

An individual will pay more or less in school taxes depending on the assessed value of his home and property and the tax rate set by each taxing entity.

In addition to K-8 school taxes, property owners in Manalapan and Englishtown pay municipal taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes and Monmouth County taxes, among other assessments.

During the meeting, Graime raised two concerns. He noted that beginning in the 2019-20 school year, the board is planning to charge a fee to parents who want their children to participate in extracurricular school clubs and sports.

Graime asked his fellow board members and Superintendent of Schools John J. Marciante Jr. if a policy is needed to address the following question: If a parent pays for a child to join a school sports team, is there a guarantee the child will play in each game for a minimum percentage of time?

“Some parents who paid the fee may say, ‘You didn’t play my kid the entire season. I want my money back,’ ” Graime said. “Parents have to know the expectation of if they pay, will their child play?”

Marciante said he would look into that aspect of the proposed pay-to-play plan.

Second, Graime said some Manalapan Englishtown Middle School students who apply for admission to specialized programs in the Freehold Regional High School District list the school clubs they belong to as a way to enhance their credentials and improve their chance of being accepted into a specialized program.

Graime asked how a child who has no clubs listed on his or her application to a specialized learning program would be viewed by administrators who assess the applicants if the reason the child has no clubs listed is because his or her parents could not afford to pay for the child to join a school club or clubs.

Marciante said that aspect of the board’s plan to charge parents a fee for their child to participate in a club needs to be addressed at some level.