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Freehold Borough school board introduces budget for 2022-23

FREEHOLD – The Freehold Borough K-8 School District Board of Education has introduced a $46 million budget to fund the operation of the district during the 2022-23 academic year.

Following a discussion among district administrators and board members, the budget was introduced on March 21.

A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for May 9. The budget, which may be revised until that date, may be adopted by the board following the public hearing.

The $46 million budget will be supported by the collection of a $10.5 million tax levy to be paid by the borough’s residential and commercial property owners. The board will appropriate $1.6 million from the district’s surplus fund (savings) and the remainder of the revenue that is needed to fund the budget will come from other sources.

In 2021-22, Freehold Borough’s school tax rate was 97 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. On a home assessed at the borough average of $266,903, K-8 school taxes totaled $2,588 (0.97 x 2,669).

In 2022-23, the school tax rate is estimated to decrease to 92 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. On a home that is still assessed at $266,903, K-8 school taxes will decrease to $2,455 (0.92 x 2,669).

Freehold Borough K-8 school taxes are one component of a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes and Freehold Borough municipal taxes.

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

During the 2021-22 school year, the $38.68 million budget that was adopted by the board was supported by a local tax levy of $10.74 million and the receipt of $19.1 million in state aid.

During the 2022-23 school year, the local tax levy will decrease to $10.5 million to support the proposed $46 million budget. The school district will receive $22.26 million in state aid, which is an increase of $3.16 million from the current academic year.

Freehold Borough’s state aid has increased each year since the enactment of state legislation known as S-2 in 2018.

“With another significant increase in state aid this year, Freehold Borough is on track to having fully funded elementary schools, something not even fathomable a few short years ago,” Superintendent of Schools Joseph Howe said.

“A strong effort of advocacy by the community has resulted in our children finally receiving the support they are constitutionally entitled to. This funding will allow the district to sustain and improve on progress made as we continue to recover from the (coronavirus) pandemic.

“With this funding, we intend on sustaining three ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, two middle school teaching positions to lower class sizes, a speech language therapist, a registered nurse, a guidance counselor/substance awareness coordinator, and a technology technician.

“While all of these positions were needed prior to the pandemic, the need has become even more acute over the past year.

“A portion of this funding will also be allocated to expand and improve our facilities so we will finally have appropriate instructional spaces in which to provide all of the services necessary to support instruction. More than anything, this funding gives the district the agility it needs to respond to the rapidly changing needs of our students,” Howe said.

Freehold Borough has three schools; the Park Avenue Elementary School, the Freehold Learning Center elementary school and the Freehold Intermediate School. The district’s estimated enrollment on Oct. 15, 2021 was 1,677 pupils.

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