Mt. Laurel Schools BOE passes 2019-2020 school year budget

The budget includes funding for the new full-day kindergarten program, curriculum projects, capital upgrades and more.

The Mt. Laurel Schools Board of Education used a portion of its most recent meeting to approve the district’s 2019-2020 school year budget.

Similar to the information from the tentative budget the board reviewed and approved in March, total appropriations in the 2019-2020 budget reached $77.4 million, which is a 1.39 percent increase, or about a $1 million jump, from the 2018-2019 budget’s total appropriations of $76.4 million.

With the 2019-2020 budget, residents with an average assessed home valued at $237,600 will see their annual taxes for the K-8 district rise about $33 for the year, or 1.26 percent.

This means the total K-8 school tax bill for a resident with an average assessed home is now estimated at $2,663.49.

Those figures are based on an increase in the K-8 tax rate from last year’s rate of .01107 cents owed per every $100 of assessed property value to the newly approved rate of .0121 cents owed per every $100 of assessed property value.

District officials also noted that state aid funds have increased in the 2019-2020 budget, with total funds set at about $5 million, compared to the $4.8 million in the 2018-2019 budget.

However, district officials also noted that, overall, the district’s total state aid figures are still below the figures the district received 10 years ago in the 2009-2010 school year budget, which had state aid set at $5.8 million.

As noted by district officials, the 2019-2020 budget also includes all the capital improvements approved by voters in the district’s $35.5 million referendum in October – including those improvements needed to implement the district’s first full-day kindergarten program in September.

Funds for staffing the program are also included in the budget, and while officials say they are making estimates to the number of professionals the district will be required to hire, they also note the final, exact number of staff members needed would ultimately be determined by enrollment figures.

As with past years, this year’s budget also includes funding for curriculum, technology and capital projects across the district.

Curriculum writing projects include focuses on kindergarten, English as a Second Language, financial literacy for certain grades, literacy intervention kits, STEM materials, assessment kits and more.

In regard to technology, the district will replace student Chromebooks due to age, fund remote management and anti-virus software, undertake projector replacement and installation in new classrooms, purchase laptops for new kindergarten teachers and more.

For capital projects in this year’s budget, the district plans to install more security cameras and classroom locks, replace carpet with tile at Hartford Upper Elementary School and Springville Elementary School, replace tile at Springville, replace carpet in the Larchmont Elementary School Library, replace the stage curtain at Hartford and undertake painting projects at Parkway Elementary School, as well as Hartford, Springville and Larchmont.

The budget also outlines a new scoreboard for the eighth-grade gym at Harrington Middle School, door security upgrades for the Countryside Elementary School cafeteria, replacement of cafeteria tables at Harrington and Hartford, and improvements to the main entrance door security at the district’s administration and transportation buildings.

For transportation projects, the district plans to replace six buses with two 54-passenger buses and four 24-passenger buses, as well as implement new routing software and install more live GPS tracking units.