MILLSTONE – The Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education has adopted a $42.1 million budget that will fund the operation of the district during the 2022-23 school year.
The budget, which was adopted on May 9, will be supported by a tax levy of $33.2 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 adopted, Superintendent of Schools Christopher Huss said, “I am thankful to our business administrator, Bernie Biesiada, and the members of our Board of Education for working diligently to create and approve a budget that is fiscally responsible while avoiding catastrophic impacts to the schools and students.
“Despite a loss of nearly $1.9 million in state aid over the past five years, 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 and mathematics) electives, robust curriculum, progressive character education programs, commitment to 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.
“While preparing the budget is always a very involved process, this year was again challenging due to the cuts in state aid. 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 and insurance coverage, and out-of-district tuition continue to rise.
“The funding formula created by the state appears to ignore these factors, among many others, while over-relying on enrollment data and previous years’ tax levy figures. The state’s funding formula suggests that residents of Millstone have not been paying their ‘local fair share’ in taxes, which has resulted in significant cuts …
“Essentially, the Legislature has used aid reductions to send a message that districts like Millstone should balance their budgets by raising local property taxes or reducing spending. Unfortunately, the latter can only be accomplished by cutting programs and/or raising class sizes, which we are adamantly against,” Huss said.
“If the S-2 funding formula continues to be implemented as it is currently designed, and 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, and the educational experience we have become accustomed to in Millstone may drastically change.
“Thus, it is important for all of us, students, parents, educators and community members alike, to band together and let our legislators know how we feel. Hopefully, we can partner with supportive politicians and change the budgetary course for future years.
“In the meantime, I continue to be appreciative of our Board of Education’s thoughtfulness and diligence. They have once again balanced their fiduciary duties with our students’ needs to arrive at a reasonable and fair budget,” the superintendent said.
The Millstone Township school district’s 2021-22 budget had 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 projected to increase to about $1.7645 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home that is still assessed at $532,300, the township average, will pay about $9,392 in school taxes (1.7645 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.