BOE APPROVES 2012-2013 BUDGET WITH LEVY BELOW THE 2% LEVY CAP
On March 27, the Board of Education unanimously approved the 2012-2013 Cherry Hill Public Schools budget and the general fund local tax levy of $149,444,439. The approved local levy reflects an increase of 1.83%, which is $250,000 below the state-mandated 2% levy cap.
The average annual increase in the general fund school tax levy over the past four years has been less than 1%.
“The 2012-2013 budget continues to prioritize excellence in the classroom and the provision of a high quality education for all of our students,” said Dr. Maureen Reusche, Superintendent of Schools.
Steve Robbins, Chair of the BOE’s Business and Facilities Committee characterized the 2012-2013 budget as “very thoughtful and measured.” He praised the district’s ability to maintain programs in light of ongoing challenges, including the uncertainty that surrounds the required set-aside for the Regis Academy Charter School. The budget reflects a set-aside of $608,825 for Regis, based on a projected enrollment of 50 Cherry Hill students. This was the lowest of three enrollment projections provided to the district by the NJ DOE. Administration has indicated that lowering the set-aside any further could jeopardize the DOE’s approval of the budget.
Seth Klukoff, Board of Education President, called the budget the most “forward-looking” in his four years as a board member. “Some would say we were lucky this year – state aid wasn’t slashed, we didn’t receive any 11th hour mandates to cut from Trenton, the charter school set-aside was reduced - but you make your own luck in this world,” Mr. Klukoff said, adding that hard work, dedication, thorough planning, the building of relationships, and forward thinking all came into play with the 2012-2013 budget.
The board-approved general fund budget for 2012-2013 is $171,248,435, which represents an increase of 2.33%. As always, the lion’s share of the budget is earmarked for instruction and support services, including special education. (A budget breakdown is available HERE.)
The budget also includes more than $5 million for capital projects, which represents an increase of more than 43% over the amount budgeted this year. BOE President Seth Klukoff called this “a significant step toward addressing our district’s aging facilities and ensuring that our students, our teachers, and our staff are in schools that are equipped for the technological future,” Mr. Klukoff said.
Mr. Klukoff praised the commitment of the board and administration “to invest in capital” which he called “the right thing to do.”
State aid for 2012-2013 will be $12,732,323. Although this is an increase over the 2011-2012 appropriation, it is still $3.4 million below state aid for 2008-2009. For 2012-2013, state aid represents just 7.4% of the general fund budget, while the local levy of $149,444,439 represents 87%.
Other revenue sources include:
Budgeted Fund Balance of $6,900,000 (this includes $1.7 million in 2011-2012 state aid provided in July 2011; the DOE advised reserving these funds for use in 2012-2013)
Tuition of $158,000
Miscellaneous Revenues of $1,491,000 (this includes investment income, transfer from the School Age Child Care program, student activity fees, e-rate, and Barclay tuition)
Federal funds of $122,674 (which is a decrease from 2011-2012 due to the loss of the Education Jobs Funding)
The tax impact is an increase in the tax rate of $.079 per $100 of assessed value. For the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $140,000, taxes will increase $111. The bulk of the increase in the local tax levy is due to a $73 million decline in township ratables, noted James Devereaux, Assistant Superintendent, Business. Since 2008, ratables have declined $169 million.
“Had ratables remained flat, a 1.83% increase in the General Fund Levy would have meant an annual increase of $30 for a $140,000 home – a 0.73% increase,” Mr. Devereaux said.
For more information about the adopted 2012-2013 budget, and to view the budget in the state-mandate User-Friendly Format, click HERE.