The Deptford Board of Education held its recent meeting at Deptford Township High School to approve the district’s budget for the 2019-2020 school year.
School Business Administrator Todd Reitzel, gave the budget presentation and detailed where the money was coming from and how the BOE wanted to spend it.
“There is a lot to do in the district, and we can pick things off one at a time, so we are really making the effort to do that,” said Reitzel.
The budget was approved unanimously by the board.
With total appropriations set at $75 million, the proposed budget features an increase in the local school tax rate from $1.52 per every $100 of assessed property value to 1.58 per every $100 of assessed property value.
Based on the information presented at the meeting, Deptford Township homeowners with an average home assessed at $180,197 would see a school tax increase of $109 per year.
The BOE did something different this year before deciding to approve the budget. Led by Superintendent Arthur Dietz, Chief Academic Officer Kevin Kanauss and Reitzel, the parents and teachers who attended the meeting were taken on a “budget tour” of Deptford High School to see where the money would be spent.
“We have established budget stations on the budget tour so you can see the budget in action, the things that we are doing with the allocated funds for our district and what we are doing wisely for our students,” said Kanauss.
The most pressing need to come out of the budget were the HVAC upgrades to Deptford High School to include new state-of-the-art boilers and asbestos abatement during the summer.
The three main boilers in the school are failing. One of the boilers has been determined to be condemned. The school is currently leasing a boiler, but would like to get something permanent.
Those sympathies were shared by BOE member Stacy Gray.
“This is an old building, cinder blocks hold heat but they also hold cold. If you have a boiler out and it’s in the middle of winter, it’s going to be freezing in here,” said Gray.
The new boilers would be three-quarters of the size of the current ones that were built between 1956 and 1957. The installation of the boilers would take approximately four months.
The district would also like to replace the old, worn-down buses it has and replace them with new ones. Deptford High School already has a new school bus active, and the attendees were able to see it on the budget tour.
The new buses have seat belts thanks to the statewide requirement, and they also have a front-viewing camera to see in front of the bus when students are let off.
“This has to be on all new buses going forward. No transportation law is retroactive, it’s always forward,” said Reitzel.
The BOE hopes to purchase seven new school buses.
The district’s website is getting a makeover. The new website will launch over the summer and be more user-friendly and incorporate more social media interaction.
“Reevaluating our website and our presence to the outside world are a big part of who we are. We are really rebranding the district in that way in creating a new website,” said Louis Randazzo, coordinator of communications.
In addition to passing the budget, the BOE made a change to the meetings for next school year. For starters, the meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. and from Tuesday, July 30 until Tuesday, March 24, the meetings will take place at Blackwood Terrace School, unless otherwise noted.
The next BOE meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, at 7 p.m. at Deptford Township High School.