BOE Passes $34 Million Budget With 6-2 Vote

BOE Passes $34 Million Budget With 6-2 Votethumbnail
By
Published: May 14, 2016 @ 8:00 AM EDT

The Board Of Education (BOE) passed the 2016-17 School District Budget with a 6-2 vote. The two ‘no’ votes came from members Alex Balaban and Sundjata Sekou. Rodric Bowman was absent from the meeting.

The close to $34 million budget had $21,055,914 of it directly coming from taxpayers through their property taxes.

Mr. Sekou stated before the vote occurred that he would be voting ‘no’ in line with his platform when running for the Board last year to have elections move back to April. Currently, residents can only vote on the school budget when or if the amount to be raised by property taxes exceeds a 2% tax cap levy over the previous year’s amount. Even if that occurs, only the amount over the 2% is voted on by the public – any mount under the 2% is not affected and remains intact. There is an estimated cost of between $13,000 to $30,000 to hold elections in April but Mr. Sekou believes this cost would be outweighed by the opportunity to allow residents to have more input on the total budget instead of any amount over 2%.

Mr. Balaban stated that although he supported education and realized that this was one of the lowest tax levy increases in years, he would be voting ‘no’ because according to him it was not the right time to increase taxes. Mr. Balaban gave no examples of what he would have cut from the school budget to arrive at a $0 increase. He also did not mention that he fully supported and voted ‘yes’ over half a decade ago right after the Great Recession for the 2009-12 teacher’s contact which had the largest salary increase – 12.2% over three years – which has resulted in the current salary conditions for a budget he voted against this year.

Two-thirds (⅔) of all budgeted expenses for 2016-17 were for salaries and health/dental insurance. Tuition for out-of-district students made up 5.2% of expenditures, the third largest expense. The remaining 16 line items – ranging from supplies to the paying off a bond for expansion of facilities over a decade ago to special education to rent to legal costs – was budgeted at $6,174,398 or 18% of costs for the coming school year.

Description
%
Amount
Salaries
59.6%
$20,200,591
Insurance (Health / Dental)
17.0%
$5,771,360
FICA, PERS, Medical, Unemployment
2.3%
$782,352
Tuition (Out-Of-District - Special Education)
3.5%
$1,197,556
Tuition (Out-Of-District - Regular Education)
1.7%
$560,500
Utilities (Water, Electricity, etc.)
2.0%
$676,216
Phone & Internet
0.3%
$98,700
Special Education (other than salaries)
0.4%
$141,561
Related Special Services (OT, PT, etc.)
0.2%
$82,050
Transportation
1.4%
$465,500
Contracted Maintenance Services
1.9%
$637,848
Insurance (Liability, Auto, etc.)
1.2%
$420,232
IDEA/NCLB Grants
2.3%
$790,948
Debt Services
2.1%
$703,550
Lease Purchases
1.1%
$386,052
Legal Costs
0.3%
$100,000
Rent for ECC
0.4%
$138,684
Tuition Reimbursement
0.3%
$91,800
Sick Day Payout for Retirees
0.1%
$36,900
All Other Expenses*
1.8%
$622,005
Total Expenses
$33,904,405

The increase in expenses for the school district were $911,633 with more than half of that coming from increases in salaries and ¼ coming from health insurance increases.

Description
Amount
Total
$911,633
Increase in salaries due to collective bargaining agreement (2.4%)
$490,111
Health insurance increases (estimated at 5%)
$266,522
New lease purchases to expand laptop 1:1 initiative to Roselle Park High School as well as textbooks, science equipment, and furniture.
$125,000
Additional computer technician to support the 1:1 initiative
$30,000

Aside from the $21 million to be paid by property taxes, state aid accounted for $10,788,608 of the district’s revenue stream. The remaining $2 million came from special grant funds, a debt fund, excess surplus, tuition paid to the district from other districts, interest on investments, ticket receipts for events, rental of facilities, and payment from the municipality to run programs at the Anthony Signorello Youth Center ($72,000).

Description
%
Amount
Local Tax Levy
62.1%
$21,055,914
Tuition
0.8%
$265,444
Local Source
0.2%
$72,000
Unrestricted Miscellaneous
0.0%
$8,246
Other Restricted Miscellaneous
0.0%
$9,966
Categorical Transportation Aid
0.1%
$24,011
Extraordinary Aid
0.6%
$200,000
Categorical Special Education Aid
3.4%
$1,161,432
Equalization Aid
27.2%
$9,210,539
Categorical Security Aid
0.3%
$101,567
Medicaid Reimbursement
0.1%
$33,778
Other State Aid
0.0%
$1
PARCC Readiness Aid
0.1%
$18,620
Per Pupil Growth Aid
0.1%
$18,620
Professional Learning Community Aid
0.1%
$20,040
Excess Surplus
0.6%
$209,729
Total Special Grants Fund
2.3%
$790,948
Total Debt Fund
2.1%
$703,550
Total Revenues
$33,904,405

There were less than a dozen people in attendance for the budget adoption. This as well as for budget presentation meetings which were held in advance of the vote.