Tuckerton Board of Education Adopts Budget

May 02, 2018

The Tuckerton Board of Education approved its 2018-19 school year budget, which includes a 2 percent increase in tax revenue to support the hiring of an additional preschool disabilities teacher and an aide.

The $53,965 increase brings the tax levy to $2,752,198 and means that on an average property assessed at $215,883, the owner will pay an additional $37 annually in school tax or $3.11 monthly.

During the April 30 board of education meeting, Tuckerton School District Superintendent and Business Administrator Janet Gangemi said state aid remains flat, at $2,278,716, to support the total budget of $5,718,974. Other revenues include $34,000 from neighboring districts for use of the two school vans owned by the Tuckerton School; $29,211 from the reserve fund balance; $10,000 miscellaneous; and $5,500 in tuition revenue as Tuckerton participates in the School Choice program.

Although the district is legally allowed to raise the tax levy above the 2 percent cap by utilizing a cap bank of $48,156 and a healthcare waiver of $28,926, it did neither and has never used this financial loophole around the 2 percent cap. A cap “bank” does not mean the district has the money, but that it could levy that additional tax on property owners.

When she creates the budget, Gangemi assumes that the state aid will remain the same as the previous year, and she has been told that is the case. “I also look at the population of the school, and it has been down a bit. We were at 287 last year and we’re at 281 now, but it’s stable. One item that may impact the school moving forward is a 28-home development on Wood Street. One house has been built, and from the size of it, it could accommodate a family. If those homes are built and sold in the next two years and each had two or three children in each home, that could be a problem. We can absorb 30 to 40 children if they are spread over the grade levels, but that’s seldom the case. This year we had more third-graders. We’ll see how it plays out.”

“The big increase we have now is the number of preschool disabled students. We have 16 or 17 enrolled for next year, and that means another teacher and an aide.”

Gangemi had prepared a number of pie charts for her PowerPoint presentation. At 40 percent, state aid makes up almost half the revenue pie while taxpayers pick up the largest slice, at 48 percent.

The pie chart for expenditures shows that salaries, at $2,935,938, take up half the pie, and benefits, at $1,218,580, another quarter. Gangemi said health care costs are up slightly but nowhere near where they would have been if the district had stayed with the state plan (up 13 percent) instead of changing last year to the Central Jersey Fund. The next largest amount, $396,977, is spent on maintaining the building (including heat and electric); $125,268 is spent on transportation; $116,000 on instructional materials and field trips; $105,129 on technology; $74,203 for “other”; $50,000 on special education tuition; $65,000 on occupational therapists, physical therapists and child study team providers; and $22,630 on purchased professional services.

This past year the school took $625,000 from the capital fund to supplement the reconstruction of school rooms and offices, a new playground, and a reconfigured parking lot so buses could pull off the street to more safely to pick up and discharge students.

The construction project is almost finished, said Gangemi, with mostly punch list items to complete and a re-inspection of the elevator scheduled for May 7. A problem with the HVAC in the main office has been a source of much communication among the superintendent, architect and supplier, she said. “Still, we are optimistic enough to announce a community open house on June 4 from 5 to 7 p.m.,” she said. “We’re within spitting distance of completion.”

Mrs. Evans’ and Mr. Cerullo’s fourth-grade classes will host a fundraiser on June 12. “Walk for Water” will raise money to help some communities in Africa purchase water filters so they can have clean water. “The children were fascinated that there are people in the world that have to walk 4 to 8 miles to get clean water and bring it back,” said Cerullo. The class will also have a 40-pound weight, the approximate weight of the water, for people to see how hard it is to carry such a load for that distance. Students will solicit funds from their family members to donate toward the cause.

— Pat Johnson


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