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Florence school board adopts $31.5M budget for 2019-20

The Florence Township School District Board of Education has adpted a budget for the 2019-20 school year.

Superintendent of Schools Donna Ambrosius and Business Administrator Melissa Livengood presented the budget during a meeting in the Florence Township High School cafeteria on April 29. The two administrators explained the reasoning and formalities for the budget, which was then adopted by the board.

The total budget for the 2019-20 school year is $31.57 million, which includes a general fund of $28.54 million, special revenues of $657,926 and debt service of $2.36 million.

The total local tax levy to support the budget will be $17.23 million, to be paid by residential and commercial property owners of the municipality.

In 2018-19, the school tax rate was $1.5195 per $100. The average home in the township was assessed at $219,382 and the owner of that home paid $3,332 in school taxes.

In 2019-20, the school tax rate is projected to be $1.5348 per $100 of assessed valuation. With an average home assessment of $219,832, the school tax bill will total $3,373 – an increase of $41.

School taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes municipal taxes and county taxes.

The amount of tax an individual pays is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

Administrators said the district will receive $9.86 million in state aid for 2019-20, an increase of $94,354 from 2018-19.

As part of a strategic plan approved by the board, administrators said they anticipate employing additional special education staff and additional staff in other programs based on enrollment; expand the sixth grade math program; implement curriculum revisions and updates as required by the New Jersey Department of Education; and maintain extracurricular activities at Riverfront Middle School and Florence Township Memorial High School.

Looking toward the upcoming school year, administrators said they plan to continue a partnership with Rowan College at Burlington County, add two buses to the district’s fleet, expand student interests in technology and engineering, and maintain ongoing professional development for staff members.

Because a $24.1 million referendum was rejected by voters in March – a referendum which proposed to fund projects to meet the educational and extracurricular needs of students, improve facilities for community use and fund what administrators said were critical facility upgrades and repairs – administrators said no capital projects could be completed in the 2019-20 budget.

Administrators said although the referendum was rejected, several other projects will take place during the summer that have been funded through a grant from the Burlington County freeholders.

At the conclusion of the budget hearing, Ambrosius laid out the key points of the budget and discussed the possibility of holding another referendum in 2020.

“Our priorities [for the 2019-20 school year] were maintaining the programs and class sizes that we can for our students,” the superintendent said. “The board also needs to finalize details if we go out for another referendum and what that (referendum) would look like.”

Information about the 2019-20 school budget may be found on the district’s website at https://www.florence.k12.nj.us/budget-information-1.

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