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Board adopts $85M budget to operate Freehold Township schools

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The Freehold Township K-8 School District Board of Education has adopted an $85 million budget to fund the operation of the district during the 2021-22 school year.

The budget, which was adopted by the board on April 27, will be supported by a tax levy of $73.5 million to be paid by Freehold Township’s residential and commercial property owners. State aid will increase by $151,125, from $4.61 million in 2020-21 to $4.76 million in 2021-22.

The school district’s 2020-21 budget totaled $83.6 million and was supported by a tax levy of $72.9 million.

In 2020, the average home in Freehold Township was assessed at $426,000. The K-8 school tax rate was about $1.10 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $426,000 paid about $4,686 in K-8 school taxes.

In 2021, the average home in Freehold Township is estimated to be assessed at $444,200. The K-8 school tax rate is projected to decrease to about $1.09 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $444,200 will pay about $4,841 in K-8 school taxes.

K-8 school taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Freehold Township municipal taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes, Monmouth County taxes and a fire district tax.

Individuals pay more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of their home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

“I am proud of the budget we have created for the 2021-22 school year,” Superintendent of Schools Neal Dickstein said. “It truly balances our fiscal responsibilities to the taxpayers of Freehold Township with the ability to provide our students with a high quality, engaging, comprehensive instructional program.

“The increase in the 2021-22 budget is directly correlated to Chapter 44 legislation relative to health benefits. This legislation resulted in a $700,000 budget increase and is the only increase in school taxes from the year prior.

“If this legislation was not in place, it is likely the Freehold Township School District budget would have resulted in no tax increase in the school portion of the tax bill,” Dickstein said.

The Chapter 44 legislation the superintendent referred to was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on July 1, 2020.

Freehold Township’s enrollment has decreased by almost 300 pupils since 2017.

In October 2017, the district’s enrollment was 3,741 pupils. In October 2018, enrollment was 3,726 pupils. In October 2019, enrollment was 3,687 pupils. In October 2020, enrollment was 3,567 pupils. The projected enrollment for October 2021 is 3,443 pupils, according to budget documents posted on the school district’s website.

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