Shamong residents will be paying more on their regional school tax bill this year.
The Lenape Regional High School District board of education unanimously approved the district’s 2015–16 school year budget at last week’s meeting.
The budget includes an increase of $227.86 for a Shamong resident with the average assessed home of $308,080. The regional school tax rate increased 7.36 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The total budget is $154.06 million, an increase of 1.4 percent from last year. Most of the budget is funded with taxpayer money, with $114.36 million expected to come from taxpayers in the district’s eight municipalities.
Due to individual education plans of incoming ninth graders, there will be 21 special education positions added, eight of which will be teachers and 13 will be support staff. There will also be five bus drivers added.
Since 2010, there has been a reduction of 42 regular education teaching staff and an increase of 49 special education staff. This budget will bring that total increase of special education staff to 70 since 2010.
The 21 new special education staff members will add $1.2 million to the budget, while the five new bus drivers added $177,432. Health benefits increased by 8.2 percent, resulting in a $501,764 increase.
Once again, state aid stayed flat, showing no increase in the $29.04 million.
“There you go folks, why do our costs keep going up? The state of New Jersey is again giving us a great increase of zero dollars,” David Stow, president of the Lenape Regional Board of Education, said. “With everything else that we are trying to accomplish, with all the accolades that our staff/administration achieve, for the things that we try to do to keep costs down, the state gives us nothing for helping us in the coming year, so we have to do it all on our own.”
District officials will hold their next Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, May 13 at the district administration building in Shamong at 7:30 p.m.