MILLSTONE – The Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education has introduced a $42.3 million budget that will fund the operation of the district during the 2022-23 school year.
Following a discussion among district administrators and board members, the budget was introduced on March 28.
A public hearing is scheduled for May 9. The budget, which may be revised until that time, may be adopted by the board following the public hearing.
The $42.3 million budget will be supported by a tax levy of $33.5 million to be paid by Millstone Township’s residential and commercial property owners.
For the 2021-22 school year, the $40.4 million budget that was adopted by the board was supported by a local tax levy of $32.9 million.
From 2021-22 to 2022-23, the school district’s state aid will be reduced from $3.53 million to $3.06 million, according to information provided by the New Jersey Department of Education.
The school district’s state aid has decreased each year since the enactment of state legislation known as S-2 in 2018.
After the budget was introduced, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Huss said, “While preparing the budget is always a very involved process, this year was once again especially challenging.
“For the fifth year in a row, we suffered a significant loss of state aid, while expenses such as building operations, special education services, health care coverage and out-of-district tuition continue to rise.
“The S-2 funding formula created by the state appears to ignore these factors, among many others, while over-relying on enrollment data, local tax increases and other undisclosed multipliers.
“The formula being implemented gives the impression that Millstone residents have not been paying their ‘local fair share’ in taxes. That is the actual term used by the state and is a primary reason why our aid has been reduced nearly $2 million over the past five years,” Huss said.
“Essentially, the state is using these reductions to send a message that districts such as ours should balance their budgets by raising local property taxes to the maximum rates allowed by law.
“If the S-2 funding formula continues to be implemented as it is currently (being implemented) and these cuts persist through 2025 as projected, difficult decisions will have to be made.
“Educational programs, key resources and all non-essential support services may be compromised, class sizes will likely increase, programs could be decimated and the educational experience we have become accustomed to in Millstone may drastically change,” the superintendent said.
“I applaud our business administrator, Bernie Biesiada, and the nine members of our Board of Education for working diligently to create and approve a preliminary budget that is as fiscally responsible as possible while avoiding catastrophic impacts to the schools and students.
“Despite the state’s cuts, we remain committed to doing what is best for the students and steadfast in our mission to stay at the forefront of education.
“We are proud of our cutting-edge STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) electives, robust curriculum and progressive character education programs; and we persist in being committed to offering experiences in the arts and extensive extracurricular activities.
“All of these are supported by this year’s budget and we are hopeful we can maintain them for the foreseeable future,” Huss said.
The Millstone Township school district’s 2021-22 budget produced an approximate school tax rate of $1.75 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $532,300 paid about $9,315 in school taxes (1.75 x 5,323).
For 2022-23, the school tax rate is expected to increase to slightly more than $1.77 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home that is still assessed at $532,300, the township average, will pay about $9,421 in school taxes (1.77 x 5,323).
School taxes are one component of a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes and Millstone Township municipal taxes.
An individual pays more or less in taxes depending on the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.