Budget season is in the air

schools

It’s the time of year for school districts to begin crunching numbers and putting together the budget for the new year.

However, in Medford, budget season is something that is ongoing, as the board of education is constantly being observant of the district’s finances.

“Budget season is all year-round in Medford,” Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi said.

The group met with the budget finance committee this past week to sharpen 2016–2017 Medford Township Public Schools budget.

The first public reading of the document will be made before the board of education during its next meeting on March 21. This preliminary budget will be sent to the county office the following day.

Del Rossi pointed out after implementing the full-day kindergarten program last year, the district doesn’t plan on adding any major initiatives for 2016–2017.

“We’re looking to maintain our existing programs,” Del Rossi said.

Del Rossi is putting a specific focus on sustaining the future and balancing the growth of the special education program.

“Our special ed program continues to grow and that has a very large impact on our budget,” he said.

Another key variable that will heavily influence the outlook for next school year will be enrollment. The district doesn’t plan to add any positions for this year. In fact, there could potentially be a decrease in teachers if enrollment goes down.

“We obviously don’t know how enrollment is going to shift,” Del Rossi said. “We could lose one or two positions if we go down 20 to 25 students.”

Fortunately, kindergarten enrollment numbers are a bit higher than they were last year at this time, so Del Rossi believes they will be right on target for their projections.

The 2015–2016 budget had the third-lowest tax impact in the last eight years. The rise was much smaller than the $154.10 increase residents had on their local school tax bill in 2014–2015.

The district will look to continue to move forward and make improvements in 2016–2017 after its severe budget cuts of seven years ago.