Marlboro board puts $92M budget in place for 2019-20 school year

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MARLBORO – The Marlboro K-8 School District Board of Education has adopted a budget for the 2019-20 school year that totals $92.16 million and will be supported by a tax levy of $77.9 million to be paid by residential and commercial property owners.

The budget was adopted during a board meeting on May 7 in a 7-2 vote.

Board President Robyn Wolfe, Vice President Randy Heller and board members Patricia Branch, Robert Daniel, Vlad Goldfarb, Stephen Shifrinson and Susan Shrem voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the budget.

Board members Kathleen Amster and Dara Enny voted “no” on the motion.

“I feel the special education section of the budget is being cut by double digits. I would have been on board (with adopting the budget) if we had more cuts across the board,” Amster said.

Amster was referring to the special services line item in the budget decreasing from $2.64 million in 2018-19 to $2.31 million in 2019-20, a decrease of $330,000 (12.43%).

In her comments about the budget, Enny said, “I feel the cuts in staff were made only on the people who directly work with children who are most vulnerable in the special education program and the youngest children in our district.”

Enny was referring to the reduction of 17 full-time instructional assistants to part-time status, and the elimination of 12 instructional assistant positions. Board members also eliminated 11 teaching staff positions due to declining enrollment.

According to a User Friendly Budget posted online, the district’s enrollment on Oct. 13, 2017 was 4,840 pupils. The district’s enrollment on Oct. 15, 2018 was 4,759 pupils. The estimated enrollment for Oct. 15, 2019 is 4,761 pupils.

The budget includes $1.7 million for capital projects, including partial roof replacements at the Asher Holmes and Defino Central elementary schools; concrete and asphalt repairs at the transportation depot, the Asher Holmes, Defino Central, Robertsville, Marlboro and Dugan elementary schools, the David C. Abbott Early Learning Center and Marlboro Memorial Middle School; the installation of new fire suppression systems at the Marlboro and Dugan elementary schools; and other projects and improvements across the district.

Budget documents indicate the following changes from 2018-19 to 2019-20:

• Salaries for district employees decreasing from $54.18 million to $53.78 million;

• Employee benefits decreasing from $17.55 million to $17.05 million;

• Buildings and grounds costs increasing from $6.37 million to $6.82 million;

• Transportation costs increasing from $2.36 million to $2.75 million;

• Out-of-district instruction decreasing from $1.88 million to $1.51 million;

• Non-instructional support services decreasing from $1.16 million to $888,981;

• Security costs increasing from $685,889 to $708,743;

• Required facilities maintenance increasing from $976,404 to $1.18 million;

• Other operations and maintenance increasing from $6.43 million to $6.72 million.

District administrators said the budget will fund the replacement of five 54-passenger buses and two 16-passenger vans.

According to information posted by the state Department of Education, Marlboro’s state aid will be reduced from $11.16 million in 2018-19 to $10.6 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 each year through the 2024-25 school year.

In 2018-19, the K-8 school tax rate was $1.062 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $500,000 paid about $5,310 in K-8 school taxes.

In 2019-20, the K-8 school tax rate is projected to be $1.084 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $500,000 will pay about $5,420 in K-8 school taxes.

Business Administrator Cindy Barr-Rague said the tax levy has increased as a result of a decrease in state aid and the increasing cost of state benefits.

School taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Marlboro municipal taxes and Freehold Regional High School District taxes.

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.