Burlington Township School District BOE reviews 2019–2020 preliminary budget

Burlington Township homes assessed at the average value of $234,336 would see an increase in their BTSD taxes of approximately $58.

Stephen Finn

The Sun

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Last week’s Burlington Township Board of Education meeting saw the board review and discuss preliminary information for the 2019–2020 school budget ahead of initial adoption that was scheduled for Monday, March 18.

According to Business Administrator Nicholas Bice, the district received an additional $924,333 in state aid this year.

The preliminary budget features a .0237-cent tax rate increase per every $100 of assessed property value.

The administration reported the overall tax levy for the general fund increased by $861,582.

The net result is a tax increase of approximately $58 per year on Burlington Township homes assessed at the average value of $234,336.

According to Bice, the district’s 2019–2020 general fund total budget as submitted is $65,780,526.

This includes such appropriations as $34.9 million for instructional, administrative and support salaries, $8.9 million for outsourced contracted services and $4.6 million for tuition costs.

The administration has also included a recommendation to include a volleyball program for the high school at a cost of $25,000. The school currently offers no options for students who wish to participate in volleyball and there are no recreational leagues in the area.

“The board commissioned an athletic advisory sub-committee and this was a reasonable and highly supported recommendation from that committee. Volleyball also appeared as the most requested athletic addition based on the grades 6–11 student survey,” said Bice in a letter to the board about the 2019–2020 budget.

The administration’s stated goals for the new budget include maintaining or expanding current instructional programs, maintaining or decreasing class sizes, expanding half-day pre-k opportunities and expanding summer school for preliminary grades.

The actual number of goals that will be reached with this budget remains to be seen.

The administration also discussed a number of challenges it faces with the new budget, including a lack of funding from the State Funding Reform Act.

“Stabilized districts are only beginning to catch up with new legislation. However, this is a phase-in approach which will take time. District enrollment is slightly declining, so we will eventually hit a break even point with our state funding,” said Bice in his letter.

According to the administration, special education costs present another challenge for Burlington Township schools. Despite the district’s overall enrollment declining, its special education population remains steady.

To address some of these challenges, the administration is exploring several actions for future budgets, including conducting an updated demographic study.

“As we have seen housing sales in the township increase, we need a better understanding of the potential impact on student enrollment. We will also closely monitor attrition going forward. Additionally, we will examine all possibilities for savings in supplies and consumables,” said Bice.

The board was scheduled to vote on initial adoption of the 2019–2020 budget on Monday, March 18. A final public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1. Visit burlingtontownshipsun.com for updates on the status of the budget adoption process.

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