MARLBORO – The Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education has introduced a tentative budget for the 2019-20 school year that totals $92.16 million.
The budget calls for a local tax levy of $77.9 million to be paid by Marlboro’s residential and commercial property owners. The taxpayers’ share of the budget revenue will be about 84.5 percent.
The budget was introduced in March and a public hearing on the spending plan has been scheduled for the board’s May 7 meeting. Residents may comment on and ask questions about the budget that evening. The board may adopt the budget at that time.
On a motion to introduce the budget, board President Robyn Wolfe, Vice President Randy Heller and board members Robert Daniel, Vlad Goldfarb, Stephen Shifrinson and Susan Shrem voted “yes.” Board members Kathleen Amster and Dara Enny voted “no.”
“I look at this budget and I see that buildings and grounds is going up by 10.3 percent, transportation is going up by 16.5 percent and attorney fees are going up by 19 percent, and then we are talking about reducing time of instructional aides and kindergarten aides,” Enny said. “It’s not balanced and I don’t see any cuts being made across the board.”
If the budget is adopted as introduced, the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $494,605 will pay about $126 more in K-8 school taxes in 2019-20 than in 2018-19, according to district administrators.
The school district’s 2018-19 budget totaled $91.95 million and was supported by a tax levy of $76.4 million. The 2019-20 budget increases appropriations by $207,202 and the tax levy by $1.5 million, according to the board.
Business Administrator Cindy Barr-Rague said the tax levy has increased as a result of a decrease in the district’s state aid and the increasing cost of state benefits.
Administrators said the budget eliminates 11 teaching staff positions due to declining enrollment, reduces 17 full-time aides to part-time, and eliminates 12 instructional assistant positions.
According to information posted by the state Department of Education, Marlboro’s state aid will be reduced from $11.162 million in 2018-19 to $10.604 million for 2019-20. Under the terms of a state law that was enacted in 2018, the district’s state aid will continue to be reduced through the 2024-25 school year.
“Losing more than $5 million over seven years (the total scheduled reduction in state aid from 2018-19 through 2024-25) makes it very difficult for any district to maintain quality programs and keep the district moving forward with less resources from the state,” Barr-Rague said. “Contractual salary and benefit increases alone are more than the amount of the overall budget increase.”
The 2019-20 budget will use $43,327 from surplus funds (savings) and $835,393 from a budgeted fund balance as revenue.
The K-8 school tax rate is projected to increase from $1.062 per $100 of assessed valuation in 2018-19 to $1.082 per $100 in 2019-20, according to Barr-Rague. The average home assessment in Marlboro has increased from $493,926 in 2018 to $494,605 in 2019.
The budget may be amended until the public hearing is conducted. If the budget is adopted as introduced, an individual who owned the “average” home in 2018-19 and paid $5,245 in K-8 school taxes would pay $5,371 in the “average” home, an increase of $126, for 2019-20.
School taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Marlboro municipal taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes and other assessments.
The amount an individual pays in property taxes is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.
Barr-Rague said administrators are anticipating an enrollment of 4,761 pupils in 2019-20. The current enrollment in the district is 4,824 pupils.