HomeShamong NewsShamong board of education begins 2021-’22 budget talks

Shamong board of education begins 2021-’22 budget talks

Members expect to use district’s allotted 2 percent budget increase

Shamong’s school board began a series of 2021-2022 budget talks on Jan. 19.

Business Administrator Laura Archer gave a presentation on the new budget, for which the board expects to use the district’s allotted 2 percent increase to fund staffing, maintenance and other costs.

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“It is a great school district and we really value everything that goes on in our district for students and staff,” Archer said. “We really look at long-term planning for academics; long-term planning for staff; long-term planning to address aging facilities; and better, more consistent messaging.”

Archer is putting together a budget that funds technology updates, building maintenance like exterior painting and a new health curriculum, and maintains existing student services and extracurricular activities. The budget also needs to address a lack of revenue for school cafeterias, the result of fewer student  lunch purchases.

The 2021-2022 school year budget will face a hurdle: Yearly state funding will decrease by more than $300,000, the largest reduction the district has seen. 

“I actually think it will probably be a little bit more than that,” explained Archer. “I just have a feeling that with our enrollment being down a little bit, and possibly the state trying to recoup the grants that were out there for COVID, I feel that that number is going to be a little bit higher.”

Archer added that she expects the state to release concrete funding numbers in February. 

“When we’re balancing a budget, our revenues have to equal our expenses, so that’s why these state aid figures are so important,” she explained. 

Shamong’s school budget has been a point of tension, as now-Deputy Mayor Michael Di Croce has asked the board of education to halt increases in order to keep township taxes low.

Board member Frank Locantore defended the need for a 2 percent spending increase, something he said would cost residents roughly $7 in taxes each month. 

“I think that it’s more than reasonable,” he said. “As I’ve said many, many times, our school district and the quality of our education that we provide to our children in this district is one of the main driving factors of our high property value.”

Also at the meeting, school officials celebrated the work of teachers, who recently implemented small reading group time and began teaching in-person and remote students at the same time.

Indian Mills Middle School Principal Tim Carroll recognized the school’s student council, which has worked with its Social-Emotional Learning Committee to create movement breaks for students and incorporate social-emotional learning activities into the school day.

Allie Ferell, a parent, submitted a comment to the board.

“We want to thank all the teachers in the district for making lemonade out of lemons during distance and remote learning,” she wrote. “Your hard work and dedication to the students doesn’t go unnoticed.”

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