Home News Transcript News Transcript News FRHSD board puts $197.7M budget in place for 2021-22 academic year

FRHSD board puts $197.7M budget in place for 2021-22 academic year

The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education has adopted a $197.7 million budget that will fund the operation of the district for the 2021-22 school year.

District administrators said the budget will be supported by the collection of $143.2 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners in the district’s eight sending municipalities: Colts Neck, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.

The district operates high schools in Colts Neck, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.

According to budget documents, the district’s enrollment decreased from 10,571 students in October 2019 to 10,376 students in October 2020. The estimated enrollment for October 2021 is 10,276 students.

The district’s 2020-21 budget totaled $200.81 million and was supported in part by a tax levy of $140.38 million, according to district administrators. From 2020-21 to 2021-22, total spending is down $3.11 million and the tax levy is up $2.82 million.

In 2021-22, under the terms of legislation known as S-2 that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018, the district is continuing to see its state aid decrease. State aid to the FRHSD will decrease from $40.73 million in 2020-21 to $34.05 million in 2021-22.

Administrators have said the decrease in state aid will continue through the 2024-25 school year. Freehold Regional has joined other school districts that are losing state aid in litigation that seeks to overturn S-2.

Board President Peter Bruno, Vice President Marc Parisi and board members Diana Cappiello, Debra Fanelli, Elizabeth Higley, Michael Messinger and Adam Weiss voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the 2021-22 budget during a meeting on April 29.

Board members Heshy Moses and Kathie Lavin were absent from the meeting.

Administrators provided the tax levy that property owners in each sending municipality will pay in the upcoming school year, and relevant tax information:

• Colts Neck: $11.53 million tax levy for 2021-22, down from $11.8 million for 2020-21. The high school tax rate has decreased from 39.4 cents to 38.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $830,000 and that individual will pay $3,187 in FRHSD taxes in 2020-21.

• Englishtown: $1.01 million tax levy for 2021-22, down from $1.07 million for 2020-21. The high school tax rate has decreased from 40.7 cents to 38.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $350,000 will pay $1,337 in FRHSD taxes.

• Farmingdale: $673,639 tax levy for 2021-22, down from $724,299 for 2020-21. The high school tax rate has decreased from 42 cents to 39 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $350,000 will pay $1,365 in FRHSD taxes.

• Freehold Borough: $4.17 million tax levy for 2021-22, the same tax levy as 2020-21. The high school tax rate has remained flat at 37.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $270,000 and that individual will pay $1,018 in FRHSD taxes.

• Freehold Township: $28.58 million tax levy in 2021-22, up from $27.66 million for 2020-21. The high school tax rate has increased from 41.2 cents to 42.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $444,200 and that individual will pay $1,892 in FRHSD taxes.

• Howell: $32.3 million tax levy for 2021-22, up from $31.79 million for 2020-21. The high school tax rate has increased from 43 cents to 43.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $371,527 and that individual will pay $1,623 in FRHSD taxes.

• Manalapan: $30.56 million tax levy for 2021-22, up from  $29.39 million for 2020-21. The high school tax rate has increased from 41.6 cents to 43.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $453,733 and that individual will pay $1,964 in FRHSD taxes.

• Marlboro: $34.37 million tax levy for 2021-22, up from $33.74 million for 2020-21. The high school tax rate has increased from 46.6 cents to 47.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $494,783 and that individual will pay $2,345 in FRHSD taxes.

Freehold Regional High School District taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill. The total tax bill also includes municipal taxes, local school district taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

The total amount an individual pays in taxes is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Administration Sean Boyce explained that the annual high school district tax rate that is assigned for each sending municipality is determined by a state formula that factors in a municipality’s elementary school enrollment.

Boyce said district administrators are pursuing legislative options in an attempt to change the state formula that determines the annual tax rate for each sending municipality.

For example, Manalapan and Freehold Township, which will see their Freehold Regional tax rate increase for 2021-22 after several years of a decrease in the tax rate, are both experiencing enrollment decreases at the elementary level, according to Boyce and Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson.

Sampson said that during the current 2020-21 school year, many children who would have been enrolled in their local public school kindergarten program were instead sent to a private kindergarten because private schools were offering in-person instruction as the coronavirus pandemic continued, while many public school districts operated on a remote instructional model.

The superintendent said he expects public school kindergarten enrollment to rebound in September when most, if not all, public school districts will be offering in-person instruction.

Weiss, who represents Manalapan on the board, and Higley, who represents Freehold Township, both acknowledged those two communities have seen their FRHSD tax rate decrease in recent years.

Both board members acknowledged that elementary enrollment is declining in Manalapan and Freehold Township and that the increase in the FRHSD tax rate for their towns for 2021-22 is a result of the state formula and not budget decisions that are made at the local level.

In addition to adopting the budget, the board members passed a resolution to eliminate the following positions as a result of a reduction in force: one full-time special education teaching position; one part-time World Language (Mandarin) teaching position; one full-time school psychologist (child study team) position; one full-time social studies teaching position; one full-time mathematics teaching position; one full-time, 12-month paraprofessional/Braille transcriber position; six full-time paraprofessionals; and one transportation paraprofessional. The resolution stated that the affected employees would be notified by the superintendent.

– Managing Editor Mark Rosman contributed to this article.

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