Washington Township Board of Education passes 2020-’21 budget

Financial plan for upcoming year includes slight tax increase

The Washington Township board of education passed its operating budget for the 2020-’21 school year at its last public session April 28.

During that meeting, the board signed off on a package totaling $146,553,602 in the general fund and $150,220,462 for the entire budget β€” an increase of just over $4 million from the previous year’s $145.9 million.

Included in the complete appropriations was $2.43 million in a special revenue fund and $1.235 million in debt service. The local tax levy, totaling $88.68 million toward the general fund, represents a 2-percent increase ($1.739 million) over the previous academic year.

That means for an average assessed home value of $230,000, taxes for township property owners are expected to increase by $5.18 per month, approximately $62 for the year. Last spring, taxes increased roughly $43 for an average home valued at $210,358.

During a presentation to the board, Superintendent Joseph Bollendorf enumerated the goals behind the new budget: continue to provide a safe environment conducive to learning; keep meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse student population while maintaining high academic standards; maintain an average class size of 25, with an attempt to keep primary grades at lower numbers, where possible; continue to provide and enhance a dynamic and comprehensive program that will prepare students for the 21st century; provide a level of services, programs, and staff to support all the district goals in compliance with state standards and federal law; and minimize tax impact while maximizing the efficient use of tax dollars.

Also included in the budget was a banked cap carryover amount of $311,481 from the 2019-’20 budget, as well as an expected maximum amount of $800,000 set aside for travel and professional development.

State aid was decreased from just over $48 million to $46.9 million for the upcoming year β€” a drop of 2.42 percent.

β€œWe wanted to minimize the impact on our local taxpayers, so despite the $1.3-million decrease in state funding, we were able to only increase the operating budget by 0.35 percent, with our main focus being to maintain existing programming for our students,” said Board President Julie Kozempel.

The board also signed off on more than $840,000 in safety-related capital projects, such as $450K toward HVAC and flooring replacements at several district schools; physical plant upgrades at the elementary, middle and high-school levels; and $37.4K for the installation of security cameras at Washington Township HIgh School.

All non-safety related capital projects that were slated to be done in cycles, such as flooring and door and locker replacements, were removed from the budget, for a savings of just over $338,000.

A comprehensive breakdown of the budget can be found on the school district’s website at: https://www.wtps.org/Page/30623.