The Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District Board of Education has introduced a $95 million budget to fund the operation of the school district during the 2021-22 school year.
The budget resolution that was passed by the board indicates residential and commercial property owners in Manalapan and Englishtown will pay a combined total tax levy of $71 million to support the budget.
The budget was introduced without comment from board members during the panel’s March 16 meeting at the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School (MEMS).
The board scheduled a public hearing on the budget for 7:30 p.m. May 4 at MEMS.
For the 2020-21 school year, the board adopted a $97.15 million budget. Property owners in Manalapan and Englishtown paid a total tax levy of $69.62 million to support the budget.
At present, the owner of a home assessed at the Manalapan average of $453,733 is paying about $4,283 in K-8 school taxes.
At present, the owner of a home assessed at the Englishtown average of $350,000 is paying about $3,175 in K-8 school taxes.
The board did not provide information regarding the 2021-22 budget’s impact on property taxes upon its introduction.
The budget for the upcoming school year will incorporate a $2.96 million reduction in state aid. Manalapan-Englishtown will see its state aid reduced from $14.93 million in 2020-21 to $11.97 million in 2021-22.
The district’s state aid is being reduced each year through 2024-25 under the terms of state legislation known as S-2 that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018.
Manalapan-Englishtown is among a group of New Jersey school districts that have filed a lawsuit against the state as a result of S-2.
The litigation remains unresolved after several years, although some progress in the complex matter was recently reported to Superintendent of Schools John J. Marciante Jr. by attorney Dustin F. Glass of the Weiner Law Group, Parsippany.
Glass wrote, in part, “Now that we have the algorithm (as to how state aid is determined), the six litigation groups would likely need to hire an expert to see if the algorithm does what the statute (S-2) says it should do. … We are finding an expert to perform the analysis and will present someone to the group.
“With the information gathered through the (litigants’) Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, we have additional evidence for the underlying litigation once it is hopefully remanded.
“We can also take the information we have learned and follow up with additional OPRA requests … For instance, it does not seem like a big ask for the (New Jersey) Department of Education to produce the entire formula now if the multiplier portion thereof can be produced,” Glass wrote in a memo to Marciante that the superintendent shared with the News Transcript.
According to a budget document posted on the school district’s website, there were 4,952 pupils enrolled on Oct. 15, 2018 and 4,865 pupils enrolled on Oct. 15, 2019. The district’s projected enrollment for Oct. 15, 2020 was 4,847 pupils.
The projected enrollment for Oct. 15, 2021 has not been posted on the website at this time.