Eastern Camden County Regional Board of Education passes tentative 2016–2017 budget


At its March 16 meeting, the Eastern Camden County Regional Board of Education passed the district’s tentative budget for the 2016–2017 school year.

The tentative budget, including general operating funds and debt service payments, totals $37.7 million. The portion of the budget raised from the taxes of residents in Voorhees, Berlin and Gibbsboro is $25.5 million.

District business administrator and board secretary Diana Schiraldi said Eastern would advertise more details about the budget, such as tax impact figures, detailed expenditures, capital projects and more, once the budget was approved by the office of the Camden County Superintendent of Schools.

Eastern Superintendent Dr. Harold Melleby Jr. said Eastern is scheduled to hold its public hearing and final adoption of the budget at the BOE’s regularly scheduled meeting on April 27.

Last year’s 2015–2016 school year budget for Eastern saw a $27.66 tax increase for Voorhees homeowners with an average assessed home valued at $255,000.

In other news:

Eastern officials also spoke at the March 16 meeting about a mini-grant the district had received in the amount of $5,000 from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Eastern director of special services Dr. Susan Roth said the grant can be used to help Eastern’s special needs population, with the criteria being that the grant is used in an “inclusive setting.”

With that in mind, Roth said the district looked at other schools and found they have “respite care” or “date night” services for family and parents.

Roth said those schools will hold nights where the school provides care and entertainment for those with developmental disabilities while their families or parents can go out to enjoy a night of their own entertainment that might not otherwise be possible.

“If you think about it, a lot of our families can’t go out to dinner because they have children that are unable to be in public places,” Roth said.

Roth said the district will use the grant to have its five nights of respite care for families throughout the year.

Families will drop their students off, the district will then involve those students in some aspect of life at Eastern.

For the first evening, Roth said the students would be attending an Eastern baseball game and would be provided with dinner and instructional aid chaperones.

Roth said other events Eastern was planning for future nights included holding a dance and attending an Eastern football game.

“It’s a four-hour span, so mom, dad and maybe siblings can go out and have some downtime and their students would be in the Eastern community doing what everyone else does on a Friday night,” Roth said.