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Education Monthly: District talks budget, innovation

By: Lauren Romano, Curriculum Committee Chair 

The February, Moorestown Board of Education had a busy agenda that included a strategic plan update presentation by Michele Rowe showcasing examples of technology integration in the lower elementary schools; a mid-year Student Safety Data System Report by Michael D’Ascenzo and a current update of the 2020–2021 budget process given by our new Business Administrator James Heiser. The adoption of the 2020–2021 school calendar was tabled for further review.

The preliminary 2020–2021 budget presentation highlighted the primary challenge facing the district: how to eliminate a $5.4 million difference between administration expenditure requests and allowable revenues. Increased costs for existing salaries and benefits alone will exceed the allowable growth under the 2 percent tax levy cap, so finding ways to meet those needs and continue to maintain and improve programs is challenging. Reductions have been made during the last month to bring the difference down to about $2.4 million. Further examination of district priorities, guided by our strategic plan, is needed to bring the total to the $1.2 million allowable under the cap. The board will be presented with a budget draft at a workshop on March 10at 6 p.m. in the STAR Center.

As the district continues to face budgetary constraints and looks for unique ways to fund programs, we encourage all members of our community to participate in our next BOE Community Engagement Forum on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the William Allen Middle School Media Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for an informative dialogue on education funding and advocacy efforts. The forum will include a presentation from the Fair Funding Action Committee and an opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and offer input on this critical topic.

As chairperson of the Curriculum Committee, I was excited to attend a recent district innovation tour of the Millburn School district with 20 other board members, administrators, MTPS staff, Home & School and Moorestown Education Foundation members on Jan. 29. It was an excellent opportunity to explore Millburn’s innovative spaces and programs and to gain knowledge from another top-ranked school district on how they are preparing their students for the future through innovation, purposeful technology integration, solving real-world problems and student involvement. We are currently compiling feedback from the trip. I look forward to this being a catalyst to develop our innovation efforts to support what the future of education looks like in our district. A full presentation by Carole Butler will be at our next board meeting.

We hope to see you at the next regular meeting of the Board of Education on March 17 at 7 p.m. in the William Allen Middle School Media Center.

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