The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education has introduced a $208.93 million budget to support the operation of the six-school district during the 2022-23 school year.
The tentative budget was introduced during a meeting on March 10. Voting “yes” on a motion to introduce the budget were board President Peter Bruno, Vice President Marc Parisi and board members Michael Messinger, Elizabeth Higley, Kathie Lavin, Debra Fanelli, Diana Cappiello and Jamie Bruno. Board member Heshy Moses was absent.
District administrators said the 2022-23 budget would be supported by the collection of $146.58 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’s adopted budget for the 2021-22 school year totaled $203.16 million and was supported by the collection of $143.19 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners in the district’s eight sending municipalities.
The 2022-23 budget includes a reduction of $3.5 million in state aid. The FRHSD’s state aid decreased from $40.73 million in 2020-21 to $34.05 million in 2021-22. For 2022-23, the district’s state aid will decrease to $30.55 million.
Superintendent of Schools Charles Sampson said district administrators were bracing for a reduction in state aid totaling $6.7 million and went on to say, “It is a sad state when you are excited that you were only cut $3.5 million.
“I believe we may be the only state that is cutting any school districts at this time in recovering from COVID, especially with all of the federal dollars that are flying around.
“We don’t know how the district’s (2022-23) reduction was arrived at by the state. In a year that the state borrowed $4 billion, received billions from the federal government and had the audacity to cut some public schools, it’s disgusting. Period,” Sampson said.
Sampson said Assistant Superintendent for Business Administration Sean Boyce “will work over the next several weeks to really put together the final budget. A public hearing on the budget will be held at Howell High School on April 28.”
In regard to the budget, New Jersey has what is called an “adequacy level” of funding, which is the level at which the state says a district should be funding its schools.
Regarding the funding, in a tweet he sent to the community, Sampson said, “This is the reality for many districts in New Jersey. Deep and savage cuts as we try to move forward from the pandemic. If we are $11 million under adequacy, taxed to the (maximum tax levy) cap and spend $3,000 less per pupil than the average high school, how are we over-funded?”
The Freehold Regional High School District’s state aid has been reduced in each of the past several years under the terms of legislation known as S-2 that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018.
Sampson has said the reduction in state aid will continue through the 2024-25 school year under S-2.
Specific information about the impact of the 2022-23 budget on property taxes in each of the eight sending municipalities is expected to be available at the April 28 public hearing.
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 amount of taxes an individual pays depends on the assessed value of that individual’s home and/or property and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.
The district operates high schools in Colts Neck, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.
According to budget documents, in October 2018, the district’s enrollment was 10,673 students. In October 2019, the enrollment was 10,571 students. In October 2020, the enrollment was 10,376 students. The 2021-22 enrollment is approximately 10,400 students. The projected enrollment for 2022-23 is also 10,400 students, according to district officials.