BOE presents, adopts tentative budget

Instead of the $1.3 million shortfall that was anticipated, officials in the Medford K-8 school district are, instead, facing an approximately $650,000 gap thanks to an increase in state aid over last year.

Though the increase didn’t solve all of the district’s problems, officials were able to present a 2011–12 school budget with fewer cuts than those discussed during a Valentine’s Day Board meeting.

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Last night, the Board presented and adopted a tentative budget that includes a tax levy of about $36.7 million, about $700,000 more than last year.

The 2011–12 budget reaches the two percent tax levy cap allowed by state law, potentially raising taxes for the average homeowner in Medford by about $126, a year, should the budget pass as is.

Cuts to staff will still be included under this year’s budget, but cuts to programming will not likely happen. Staff cuts included in the budget presented Monday include the loss of five teaching and administrative positions, as well as the loss of a supervisor.

Cuts to curriculum supplies were also presented as was a proposed increase in student activity fees for extra curricular activities.

Before receiving word that state aid would increase, officials had been planning for a $1.3 million shortfall and were looking at staff and program reductions to bridge the gap.

When state aid numbers came in at about $443,000 more than last year, Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi said the increase in state aid would likely impact the number of budget reductions officials have to make, but that tough decisions were still ahead.

“We are still faced with a number of challenges in the future, but the additional funding will be very helpful,” he said.

A public hearing for the Board’s budget is scheduled for March 28. Changes could be made to the budget before it is officially adopted by the Board the way will be presented to Medford voters.

The annual school Board election is scheduled for April 27. Registered voters will decide whether the district’s proposed tax levy will pass and will fill open seats on the Board of Education.

Medford voters will also vote on the Lenape Regional High School District’s 2011–12 school budget during this year’s election. Information on the LRHSD is forthcoming.

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