Home Examiner Examiner News Millstone school board adopts $40M budget for 2021-22 academic year

Millstone school board adopts $40M budget for 2021-22 academic year

MILLSTONE – The Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education has adopted a $40.4 million budget that will fund the operation of the district during the 2021-22 school year.

The budget, which was adopted by the board on April 26, will be supported by a tax levy of $32.9 million to be paid by Millstone Township’s residential and commercial property owners (approximately 81% of the budget). Other revenue includes $1.53 million to be appropriated from the district’s surplus fund (savings).

For the 2020-21 school year, the $39.6 million budget that was adopted by the board was supported by a local tax levy of $32.7 million and the receipt of $4 million in state aid.

For the 2021-22 school year, Millstone’s state aid will be reduced by $528,714 to $3.53 million.

The school district’s state aid has decreased each year since the enactment of state legislation known as S-2 in 2018. Millstone is projected to lose a total of $2.1 million in state aid under S-2 through 2024-25, according to district administrators.

“I am thankful to our business administrator, Bernie Biesiada, and the members of our Board of Education for working diligently to create and approve a budget that is fiscally responsible while avoiding catastrophic impacts to the schools and students,” Superintendent of Schools Christopher Huss said.

“Despite a loss of nearly $1.4 million in state aid over the past four years, we remain committed to doing what is best for the students and steadfast in our mission to stay at the forefront of education.

“We are proud of our cutting-edge STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) electives, a robust curriculum, progressive character education programs, a commitment to the arts and extensive extracurricular activities. All of these are supported by the (2021-22) budget and we are hopeful we can maintain them for the foreseeable future,” the superintendent said.

“While preparing the budget is always a very involved process, this year was again challenging due to the cut in state aid. For the fourth year in a row, we suffered a significant loss of state aid while expenses such as building operations, special education services, health care coverage and out-of-district tuition continue to rise.
“The funding formula created by the state appears to ignore these factors, among many others, while over-relying on enrollment data and previous years’ tax levy figures. The state’s funding formula suggests that residents of Millstone have not been paying their ‘local fair share’ in taxes which has resulted in … significant cuts,” Huss said.
“Essentially, the Legislature has used aid reductions to send a message that districts like Millstone should balance their budget by raising local property taxes or reducing spending. Unfortunately, the latter can only be accomplished by cutting programs and/or raising class sizes, which we are adamantly against.
“If the S-2 funding formula continues to be implemented as it is currently designed and cuts persist through 2025 as projected, difficult decisions will have to be made.
“Educational programs, key resources and all non-essential support services will be compromised, and the educational experience we have become accustomed to in Millstone will drastically change.
“Thus, it is important for all of us, students, parents, educators and community members alike, to band together and let our legislators know how we feel. Hopefully, we can partner with supportive politicians and change the budgetary course for future years.
“In the meantime, I continue to be appreciative of our Board of Education’s thoughtfulness and diligence. They have once again balanced their fiduciary duties with our students’ needs to arrive at a reasonable and fair budget,” Huss said.
The Millstone Township school district’s 2020-21 budget produced an approximate school tax rate of $1.74 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $500,000 paid about $8,700 in school taxes (1.74 x 5,000).

For 2021-22, district administrators said the school tax rate will increase to approximately $1.75 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $500,000 will pay about $8,750 in school taxes (1.75 x 5,000).

School taxes are one component of a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Millstone Township municipal taxes and other assessments.

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.

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