The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board of Education has presented a preliminary budget at the past two board meetings, which included anticipated revenue and expenditures that could mean a 1.7 percent increase for Scotch Plains residents and a 2.11 percent increase for Fanwood residents, however this is reliant on whether or not state funding is cut due to sequestration.
School Board President Trip Whitehouse made it clear that although percentages could go up on average, the board is spending less money overall, it is just a matter of state funding, which the board will get the final numbers of on Feb. 28.
Business Administrator Deborah Saridaki said it was recommended that due to the potential federal sequestration that the board only budget 70 percent of what was received during the 2012-2013 year and that it was what the tentative budget reflects.
Whitehouse added that it is also possible this could go the other way and they receive more than the 70 percent from the state.
“Our revenue is divided into different types of revenue, our operating revenue comes from two different sources – local sources and state and other aid, our tax levy is anticipated to go up 2 percent and the only portion of that that goes up is the operating tax levy,” Saridaki stated.
Whitehouse stated that the board is spending $660,000 less but because revenue from the other sources is less, the local side of funding the district is higher.
Currently the revenue side is showing state aid, but that is always the wildcard, Superintendent Margaret Hayes said. She added that once they find out from the state the amount of aid they are receiving on Feb. 28 they have exactly one week to turn it around because the budget needs to be presented to the county on March 7.
Another budget meeting will be held on March 6 to discuss a budget that will reflect any necessary changes to state aid before it is given to the county the following day.
The largest expenditures of the Board of Education includes, 57.56 percent for staffing at over 47 millions dollars and 17.95 percent in health insurance, which has increased in cost since 2012-2013.
The overall amount for the operating funds for 2013-2014 is within the 2 percent cap from last year at $76,313,227.
Also, 4.5 new additions will be made in staffing due to an increase in enrollment.
The Board of Education along with the PTA has planned two public “coffees” to introduce the Proposed 2013-2014 School Budget with the communities. These sessions will take place at 7:30 p.m. on March 12 at Park Middle School and on March 19 at Terrill Middle School.
The Public Hearing on the 2013-2014 Budget will take place March 21 at 8 p.m. at the Board of Education Administrative Office.