The Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District Board of Education has introduced a $95.26 million budget to fund the operation of the school district during the 2022-23 school year.
The budget was introduced during a meeting held March 28. Voting “yes” on a motion to introduce the budget were board President Brian Graime, Vice President Gerald Bruno, David Kane, David Ferber, Dotty Porcaro, Ryan Urgo and Jesse Tossetti.
Board member Christine Parisi was absent from the meeting and one seat for a Manalapan representative remains open on the panel.
A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. May 3 at the Wemrock Brook School, Manalapan. The board members may vote to adopt the budget following the public hearing.
The 2022-23 budget will be supported by the collection of a $72.65 million tax levy to be collected from residential and commercial property owners in Manalapan and Englishtown.
The school district will see a $2.61 million decrease in its state aid from $11.97 million in 2021-22 to $9.36 million in 2022-23 under the terms of a state school funding law known as S-2.
The school district’s budget for the current 2021-22 school year totals $96 million and is being supported through the collection of $70.96 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners in Manalapan and Englishtown.
Graime said the “severe budget cuts (from the state) had little to no impact and noticeability on our students.”
Bruno said, “We lose money every year from the state and we keep performing at a high level.”
Urgo thanked Business Administrator Veronica Wolf, Superintendent of Schools Nicole Santora and their staffs for all of their work in developing the 2022-23 budget.
Some participation fees for student sports, clubs and activities will be increased for the 2022-23 school year and will provide the school district with an anticipated revenue increase of about $50,000, Santora said.
The superintendent said students who receive free and reduced price lunch do not pay participation fees for sports, clubs and activities. No child will need to pay a fee to participate in more than three activities (sports, clubs, activities) per year.
During the 2021-22 school year, the K-8 school tax rate in Manalapan was projected to be 94.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $450,000 paid about $4,266 in K-8 school taxes.
During the 2021-22 school year, the K-8 school tax rate in Englishtown was projected to be 88.1 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $330,000 paid about $2,907 in K-8 school taxes.
The board has not provided tax rates for Manalapan and Englishtown for the 2022-23 school year.
K-8 school taxes are one component of a property owner’s total tax bill in Manalapan and Englishtown. The bill also includes taxes that are paid to the municipality, to the Freehold Regional High School District and to Monmouth County.
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.e., municipality, school district, county).
If the assessed value of an individual’s property increases from one year to the next, that individual could pay more in taxes to a taxing entity (i.e., school district) even if the tax rate for that taxing entity has decreased.
In other business on March 28 and in an action related to school funding, the board members unanimously passed a resolution supporting New Jersey Senate Bill 354.
According to the resolution, S-354 seeks to establish a School Funding Formula Evaluation Task Force consisting of the Commissioner of Education and six appointed public members to study and recommend revisions to the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) of 2008.
Under S-2 and SFRA, which establishes the formula for determining the amount of state aid for public school districts in New Jersey, the school district will see its state aid decrease from approximately $18.7 million in fiscal year 2017-18 to approximately $6.9 million in fiscal year 2024-25 as a result of SFRA and S-2, according to the resolution.
The resolution states that the school district’s representatives believe a more equitable distribution of state aid is necessary to ensure the district’s students receive a “thorough and efficient” education as required by the New Jersey Constitution.
The state Senate recently passed S-354 unanimously and the board is requesting that the state Assembly pass a companion bill to S-354 and that Gov. Phil Murphy sign it into law as soon as possible.
The board members said they strongly support the passage of S-354 into law and the establishment of the School Funding Formula Evaluation Task Force.
The board is requesting that the task force, if it is established by law, contain at least one appointed public member from Monmouth County and that the task force “specifically consider during its study the impact on the district of the current formula for state aid, including the significant reductions, and submit recommendations to create a more equitable funding formula.”
Urgo thanked Ferber and Kane for their work to prepare the resolution and to place it before the board members for their consideration.