South Brunswick School District will see another reduction in state aid

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SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The South Brunswick School District is set to lose state aid funding for the 2022-23 school year, according to the S-2 funding formula Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law in 2018. South Brunswick has seen its state aid reduced on an annual basis since that time.

Murphy announced state aid numbers for the upcoming academic year on March 10. During a Board of Education meeting that night, Superintendent of Schools Scott Feder announced the district will receive $19.74 million for 2022-23, which is a decrease of $1.74 million from what South Brunswick received for 2021-22.

Looking ahead to the 2023-24 school year, South Brunswick is scheduled to receive $18.96 million, representing a decrease of $783,000 from 2022-23, according to the S-2 funding law. For comparison, during the 2018-19 school year, the district received about $25 million in state aid.

Feder asked rhetorically how the school district can recover the $6 million it has lost under S-2.

He said that under state law, school district administrators are not able to ask taxpayers for more than a 2% annual increase in the local tax levy, which is what residential and commercial property owners pay each year to support the operation of the school district.

For the 2021-22 school year, the school district’s $144 million budget was supported by a $116 million tax levy.

For the 2022-23 school year, it is estimated the school district’s $145 million budget will be supported by a $119 million tax levy.

Feder said because of an increase in ratables in the township, the owner of a home that is assessed at the township average of about $200,000 may see his school taxes remain stable during the upcoming year.

More specific information about the impact of the budget on property taxes will be available as the 2022-23 budget is finalized by administrators and adopted by the board.

“We are constantly, year in and year out, looking to do what we did the year before, but with less money,” Feder said. “Your money is being spent well, but that doesn’t solve the problem of reality that we have to deal with this.”

That means the district is in an “always cut” model, he said, and the budget is adjusted to align with revenues.

“Somehow we do it,” Feder said. “We add services for our kids every single chance we get.”

He reiterated several times that administrators work to make certain the children do not feel the impact of any item that is eliminated from the budget.

“We are not going to hurt the kids, that’s the bottom line. We might have to do some things that are not fun or pleasant, but we are not going to let it get to the kids,” Feder said.

A tentative budget for 2022-23 was introduced on March 10. Administrators are still working on the budget, which will be the subject of a public hearing in April.