To the Editor,
By the use of any metric, the Hopewell Valley Regional School District is an excellent school system. This is evidenced by our state designation as a “high performing” school district in the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) monitoring process and in the New Jersey monthly and niche rankings of public schools in New Jersey.
These achievements are due to several factors, including an actively involved parent community, excellent staff, and students who are exposed to a rigorous and demanding curriculum that is bolstered by a wealth of co-curricular and athletic opportunities.
In Hopewell Valley, there has been a sustained commitment over the years to provide our children opportunities that exceed the state minimums and prepare our students for life and work in the 21st century.
These opportunities are something we feel set us apart compared to our neighboring districts, and many residents have shared that this is the reason they purchased a home within the school district boundaries.
While we continue our work to update our curriculum and provide a caring and supportive environment for our students, the current economy demands that we focus much of our attention on the budget. The current funding structure in New Jersey dictates that the majority of school budgets are funded through local taxes.
Due to the limited amount of state and federal aid that Hopewell Valley qualifies to receive, local taxes account for 98% of our total district budget as compared to 75% or lower in neighboring districts.
As a result, we must balance our current level of programs and services, many of which exceed the state minimums, with a budget that is responsible to our community members, many of whom do not have children in our district.
Over the next several months, there will be many conversations regarding the school budget. Our goal is to deliver a budget that provides the excellent education you expect and our students deserve, while being respectful of the impact on local property taxes.
Inevitably, reductions will need to be made. I encourage you to become involved in these budget conversations and share your opinions regarding the programs and services you value.
The board of education began preliminary budget discussions last summer; those discussions are available here.
In January, the board of education will continue the public discussions on the 2020-21 budget.
The public discussions will continue until the budget is submitted to the County Department of Education in late April. The budget discussion schedule is available here. We will also hold informal budget sessions each month for those who would like to review specific details of the budget. The schedule for these budget review sessions can be found here.
Please become part of this process so we may continue to provide our community with the school programs and services that reflect our values and a budget that is respectful to our residents.
Thomas A. Smith, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Hopewell Valley Regional School District