The Lenape Regional High School District Board of Education approved the 2019-2020 school year budget at its latest meeting, maintaining its programs and staff from the current year even after a loss of state aid funding.
As the LRHSD continues to rally in opposition to Gov. Murphy’s signed state aid reductions, the new budget represents the first of many funding challenges the district will face if its coalition fails to change the minds of the state.
For the next school year, the district will see just under $1 million slashed from state aid funding, a decrease of 3.39 percent from the current year for a total of roughly $27 million.
The provision signed last year enforced changes to the School Funding Reform Act of 2008. Those changes are proposing to spread the money throughout the state to balance the scale for “under-funded” districts. In turn, the state is slashing aid to some districts, including an estimated total of $24 million over the next five years to the LRHSD.
“We’re out there trying to rally to show the community that and show the state that what they’re proposing is not fair, it’s not right and it’s not just,” said board member David Stow as he presented the budget.
A decrease of over $3 million in the general fund from the current year sets the new budget at $154,014,361.
An increase of just under $400,000 in debt service funds, a difference of 5.19 percent from the current year, totals at $7,618,888.
The total tax levy will increase 2.13 percent, resulting in an annual increase of regional school taxes in all of the district’s sending districts, besides Woodland, listed below:
- Evesham Township – Increase of $65.78 on a home assessed at the township average of $272,700.
- Medford Township – Increase of $59.46 on a home assessed at the township average of $326,500.
- Medford Lakes Borough – Increase of $146.10 on a home assessed at the borough average of $286,540.
- Mt. Laurel Township – Increase of $7.49 on a home assessed at the township average of $237,600.
- Shamong Township – Increase of $33.76 on a home assessed at the township average of $308,498.
- Southampton Township – Increase of $80.98 on a home assessed at the township average of $192,211.
- Tabernacle Township – Increase of $53.56 on a home assessed at the township average of $264,729.
- Woodland Township – Decrease of $28.52 on a home assessed at the township average of $257,000.
To sustain programs and staff, the district had to either maintain or reduce certain aspects of the budget. Those include health-benefit reduction, no curriculum writing, no textbook purchasing, transportation reductions for Burlington County Institute of Technology and non-public routes, salary breakage with retirements and reduction in staff and/or not replacing positions through retirement.
As of now, the district has not cut staff due to several retirements.