Freehold Township school board adopts $81.8M budget for 2019-20

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The Freehold Township K-8 School District Board of Education has adopted an $81.86 million budget that will fund the operation of the district during the 2019-20 school year.

The budget, which was adopted following a public hearing on April 30, will be supported by a tax levy of $71.4 million to be paid by Freehold Township’s residential and commercial property owners.

Other revenue in the budget includes $2 million from the district’s surplus fund (savings) and $4.59 million in state aid (up from $4.53 million in 2018-19).

Significant appropriations in the 2019-20 budget include the following: Regular Programs – Instruction, $19.71 million; Personal Services – Employee Benefits, $18.06 million; Special Education – Instruction, $8.88 million; Operation and Maintenance of Plant Services – $6.67 million; and Student Transportation Services, $4.34 million.

The school district’s 2018-19 budget totaled $81.6 million and was supported by a tax levy of $70 million.

From 2018-19 to 2019-20, the total budget has increased by $260,000 and the tax levy has increased by $1.4 million.

Board Vice President Jennifer Patten and board members Mary Cozzolino, Michelle Lambert, Elena O’Sullivan, Kay Poklemba-Holtz and Kerry Vendittoli voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the budget. Board member Daniel DiBlasio voted “no.”

Board President Michael Amoroso and board member Michael Matthews were absent.

“I believe we can meet our obligations to the children’s education and the maintenance of our infrastructure with a 1.5% increase in the tax levy to the residents of Freehold  Township, not the 2% proposed,” DiBlasio said.

After the meeting, Superintendent of Schools Neil Dickstein said, “I am proud of the budget we have designed as it allows the district to maintain our outstanding program while remaining within the state imposed 2% cap. This is a maintenance budget, meaning anything that has been added is at the expense of something being removed.”

In 2018-19, the average home in Freehold Township was assessed at $402,344 and the school tax rate was about $1.14 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of that home paid about $4,586 in K-8 school taxes.

For 2019-20, administrators are estimating the school tax rate will decrease to about $1.13 per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home is now assessed at $420,000 and the owner of that home will pay about $4,746 in K-8 school taxes.

K-8 school taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Freehold Township municipal taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes, Monmouth County taxes and a fire district tax.

An individual pays more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

According to information provided by the school district, enrollment stood at 3,741 pupils in October 2017 and at 3,726 pupils in October 2018. The estimated enrollment for October 2019 is 3,652 pupils.