Program, employees cut to stabilize school tax

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Cherry Hill Sun

Weeks ago, the board of education declared the goal for 2009–2010 was a flat school tax rate. Tuesday night, members of the board reached that goal by unanimously passing the $171 million budget.

The budget will feature a tax rate of $3.19 per every $100 of assessed property value. According to Business Administrator Jim Deveraux, an average assessed home of $140,000 will pay about $4,468 in school taxes next year.

But the flat tax rate came with several sacrifices, to the tune of 63.2 full-time employees being eliminated from the district for the next school year. Forty-seven concerned residents registered to speak during the public portion of the meeting last night, the vast majority expressing displeasure at the reduction of the Mt. Misery Environment program, the elimination of two special education teachers at the high school level and the elimination of the in-school support program.

Despite the cuts, board members encouraged residents to support the budget. Board Member Elliot Roth urged residents to vote “yes” for the budget even if they have problems with possible cuts in programming. If the budget is passed, Roth said the district would work hard to restore cut programs in the future. If the budget is voted down, Roth said Township Council would likely have to reduce the budget even further.

“Can you imagine how painful it would be to cut another $1 million, $2 million or $3 million from this budget?” Roth asked. “We cannot afford to be put into that situation.”

See next week’s print edition of The Sun for the full story.