Haddonfield Public Schools BOE approves 2016–2017 budget, taxes increase

Haddonfield residents will see an increase in school taxes for the 2016–2017 school year.

HEF gives check to a teacher at the meeting

The Haddonfield Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the 2016–2017 school year budget at its meeting on April 28. The budget general fund is $36.1 million. It will result in the average home assessed at $488,481 paying an increase of $172.61 per year in school taxes.

The budget has a total tax levy for the general fund at $33.7 million, which is a 2.28 percent increase over 2015–2016. This includes the use of a 2 percent tax levy, an allowed adjustment to go over the 2 percent cap for enrollment and health-care costs and a reduction from the Debt Service Fund.

School boards can exceed the 2 percent cap for enrollment, health care, pensions and debt service. BOE President Glenn Moramarco said at the March BOE meeting that HPS has never used this allowed adjustment.

Due to the increase in health- care costs and the predicted increased enrollment at HPS, it was recommended to use the allowed adjustment for enrollment and waiver for health benefits. The enrollment adjustment totaled $308,600, and the health-care cost adjustment totaled $98,452.

According to business administrator John Christopher Oberg, HPS is still looking into health-care insurance to try to save money.

HPS received $1.31 million in state aid, which is an increase of $33,950, due to more students coming in the 2016–2017 year.

A significant decrease from the revenues in the budget was in tuition revenue with a loss of $98,000. This is due to tuition students graduating as well as not having the space to include more tuition students at the schools.

Additions to the budget include a part-time maintenance engineer and a new special education program. The new staff hire is for preventative maintenance of the school district’s facilities. The new program will be a savings of $95,000 because of consolidation of services. It is a one-year pilot program.

No other additions or cuts to staff or programs were made in this budget.

The newly passed bond referendum numbers are not included in the 2016–2017 budget. The bonds would not be sold until July, and because of that, the first payment would not be due until the following year, which will be included in the 2017–2018 budget, according to Oberg.

Members of board present that night unanimously approved the submission of the 2016–2017 budget. The only board member absent was Carlton Chin.

In other news:

• Public comment at the meeting focused mostly on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers standardized test. Parents and residents came to express their concerns with the test as part of proposed graduation requirements and about the PARCC test itself.

The BOE’s position was PARCC is a good test and it supports the proposed graduation requirements. Additionally, the BOE felt it was not the role of the BOE to issue a resolution about PARCC and the graduation requirements, and that parents should contact legislators with concerns. The BOE recommended those concerned about the PARCC share their concerns at the state Department of Education State Board Public Testimony in May and also meet with local representatives.

For more information, visit the NJDOE website at www.nj.gov/education/.

• A proclamation was given to Haddonfield Memorial High School student Hamna Khalid for her winning essay on girls’ rights through “Yes!” Magazine. Commendations were given to the Haddonfield Educational Trust, which gave thousands of dollars in teacher grants. The Jishi family was also commended for donating 30 HP computers to the school district.

• HPS was proactive in testing its drinking water for lead, as some New Jersey schools were being tested and found lead in their water. HPS came back good for all schools, “well below the federal and state standards,” Oberg said. Due to its proactivity, the school district saved money, as many school districts are starting to get testing done and rates have since increased.

• The board received three applicants for the open position on the BOE, left by Drew Hansen. Hansen resigned from the BOE due to a work reassignment that will take him overseas. The BOE plans to interview the candidates within the month.