After two consecutive years of slight tax impact decreases from the Washington Township School district, a proposed budget with a 1.8-percent tax levy increase was approved unanimously by the board of education recently.
The board gave the go-ahead on the tentative spending plan of $42,301,975, which is now under the review of the Morris County Executive Superintendent. That figure is up a total of 1.3-percent from last year’s $41,774,480 spending plan.
The tax rate, which determines how much each homeowner’s property taxes will go to the district’s budget, has yet to be configured, according to schools Superintendent Jeff Mohre.
The current budget’s $1.133 tax rate decreased a tick from the year prior of $1.134. While the tax payment went down last year, the tax levy increased 0.51-percent in the 2013-14 budget.
A slew of capital improvement projects and education enhancements were added into the budget, many of which have been on the “to-do” list for some time.
The replacement of the HVAC, boiler and flooring system at Flocktown Road School; partial roof replacement at Old Farmers Road School; bathroom upgrades at the Middle School; carpet replacement in the music room of the Middle School; paving of the upper parking lot at the Middle School; fending and paving of the kindergarten play area at Old Farmers Road School; cabinet replacement in 11 classrooms at Old Farmers Road School; sidewalk upgrades at Kossmann School and the Middle School; and carpet replacement in the library at Flocktown Road School were all included as line items in the capital portion of the budget.
While overall enrollment in the district is projected to drop by 96 students from the pre-school program through eighth grade, the current enrollment in kindergarten for the 2014-15 school year is up a full class size over the 2013-14 school year.
According to the district, enrollment for next school year’s kindergarten level stands at 194 students as of March 17. The current school year’s total enrollment is 170. Because of this, the budget includes the expansion of the full-day kindergarten program with two new class sections – one at Old Farmers Road School, and another at Kossmann School.
The current school year was the first in which the district offered full-day kindergarten after decreasing enrollment allowed for additional space to be utilized for class instruction.
Because of changes in enrollment at other grade levels, two classroom sections will be taken away in the first grade level, and another two section taken away in the fourth grade level, making for a net difference of two less sections in the district for the coming school year.
In addition to the expanded kindergarten classes, the district is looking to bring in faculty members in the following capacities: Middle School literacy coach; Accelerated Math Teacher at the Middle School; part-time Literacy Instructor at the elementary level; and part-time ESL (English as Second Language) Teacher.
The full-time positions will have a starting salary of $53,570, Mohre said.
In January 2012, the board voted 6-3 to move its elections to November, coinciding with general elections. In doing so, there is no vote by the public on the budget plan if it remains below the state-mandated 2-percent tax levy cap. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for April 1 at the Long Valley Middle School.
A public hearing on the budget will be held April 29 at Long Valley Middle School, beginning at 7:30 p.m.