Proposed school budget supports all staff and programs in Old Bridge despite continued state aid reductions


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OLD BRIDGE – The proposed 2020-21 school budget in Old Bridge supports all staff and programs despite continued state aid reductions.

Board of Education members are praising the Old Bridge Township Public School District administration for their efforts to not repeat the grim reductions of the 2019-20 school budget, which saw the closure of Cheesequake Elementary School and the cut of 85 positions.

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“To not have to cut anything dealing with cuts from the state is nothing short of amazing,” Board Vice President Jill DeCaro said, whose sentiments were shared among board members.

A public hearing for the 2020-21 budget will be held during a virtual meeting on May 5.

The board approved a preliminary $158.24 million operation budget, an increase of $7.52 million from the 2019-20 budget at a meeting on March 17.

The budget is proposed to be supported by the collection of a $104.95 million tax levy from the township’s residential and commercial property owners.

The budget supports eight projects totaling $1.48 million. The projects include upgrades to the TV Studio production, computer infrastructure upgrades, sidewalk, curb replacements, boiler at Cooper Elementary, public address system at Carl Sandburg Middle School, hydroponics lab at Old Bridge High School, lighting system at the Ellen McDermott Grade Nine Center, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) unit at Miller Elementary, School Business Administrator Joseph Marra said.

The district is expected to receive a $3.8 million reduction in state aid for the 2020-21 budget following Gov. Phil Murphy’s revamp of the School Funding Formula, which was approved by the New Jersey Senate and the House of Representatives on July 21, 2018.

Last year, the district saw a $3 million reduction in state aid with $42,209,527.

Old Bridge Township Public Schools will receive an approximate $12 million reduction in state aid over the next seven years, from approximately $45 million to $33 million according to the School Funding Formula.

The news of the reduction in state aid last school year left the district reeling with officials calling the reduction “irresponsible” and “detrimental” for its students.

Based on the amended formula, the Old Bridge schools are overfunded, Schools Superintendent David Cittadino has said.

Since 2008, enrollment in Old Bridge schools has decreased about 1,000 students. As of Oct. 15, 2019, the district’s enrollment totaled 8,466.

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