Little Egg Harbor School District Presents Preliminary Budget

Mar 07, 2018

Not one member of the public attended the Little Egg Harbor Board of Education’s preliminary budget workshop on Monday, March 5. As in past years, the board has given the public three different scenarios for local tax impacts: the owner of an average home in the township worth $199,920 and with an elementary school district tax levy of $1,152 would see a reduction of $7 if the school passes a flat tax levy. If the tax levy is raised 1 percent, the average homeowner would see an increase of $3, and if the budget were increased 2 percent, the increase would be approximately $14.

Because state aid figures are not yet in and the budget depends on almost half its revenue from state aid, plus the fact that a new governor is in the driver’s seat this year, Superintendent Melissa McCooley said the district is not able to predict what might happen. “He (Gov. Phil Murphy) may decide to fully fund us – and wouldn’t that be nice?”

This year’s budget and finance committee members are Board President August Daleo, Mathew Maleski and Robert Moncrief.

Business Administrator Nick Brown gave a quick PowerPoint presentation on the preliminary budget for the 2018-19 year. Without the state’s figures, he could not give any hard and fast numbers except for a few: the cost for health insurance, currently at $4.5 million, is expected to grow by $800,000, or 18 percent.

Saving measures include the attrition of two staff positions at a savings of $130,000; sales of solar energy credits; and continued energy cost savings.

A long-range facilities plan includes door and window replacements, roof replacements, HVAC units and energy-efficiency projects. McCooley said the gym roofs on both Frog Pond School and the George J. Mitchell School will need replacing soon. The Frog Pond gym floor continues to be monitored for air quality after it was discovered the polyethylene floor is the type that can emit mercury vapors under some conditions. “It was proven safe, and we continue to monitor it,” said Brown.

The district plans to save on transportation costs by hiring CDL drivers to cover “emergent transportation needs.”

The recent decision during the Feb. 26 board meeting to reconfigure the two K-6 neighborhood districts back into one district, with the Mitchell School returning to a K-3 grade school and the Frog Pond School to a grade 4-6 school, as it was years ago, will also save the district as one administrative post will be eliminated. Both schools will be on the same time schedule, so parents can be with siblings at the bus stops and siblings can ride the buses together. McCooley said there were numerous meetings over the last two years to get public and parent input and that a majority appeared to be for the return to two schools.

The reconfiguration will keep the 23-to-1 instructor to student ratio, a district priority, along with paraprofessional support for IEP (Individual Education Plan) students, technology upgrades to support WiFi-enabled testing and curriculum investment in the sciences.

The next preliminary budget workshop is during the next board meeting, on March 27. The first public hearing on the budget is April 25, with the second public hearing scheduled for May 14.

— Pat Johnson

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