Haddonfield school district releases preliminary 2022 budget

Residents can expect another 2 percent tax increase.

At its most recent public session, Haddonfield’s board of education unanimously adopted a temporary budget for fiscal year 2022. 

While no definitive information was offered during the Feb. 25 virtual meeting, the total amount of appropriations worked out to approximately $47.4 million, of which more than $42 million arises from the general fund. 

With a 2 percent cap on a local tax levy, $38.2 of an estimated $41.2 million in taxes will also link to the general fund, representing an increase of roughly $750,000 in tax revenues over last year.

“We have certain things that increase and increase more than 2 percent every year. However,  we are stuck with only being allowed to increase our tax levy by 2 percent,” said the district’s  Assistant Business Administrator Michael Catalano. 

“There are things that we are allowed to use to go over 2 percent without going to voters, but we are not eligible for any of those items this year.”

A primary factor in the budget increase is a 5 percent uptick for payroll and benefits. The district added a nurse for Central Elementary School and Haddonfield Middle School, a seventh grade ELA unit, an in house behaviorist, all accoutrements for virtual learning platforms to accommodate all five schools and various athletic needs. 

Also attached to the budget is an expected $800,000 in capital reserve funds set aside for maintenance projects at Haddonfield Memorial High School, chief among them replacement of the roof in the A wing of the building, as well as cupola restoration. Within that allotment are funds for additional improvements to the Hopkins parcel once the land swap between the board and the borough is completed. 

As a formality, the board later gave the go-ahead to four tasks related to the A wing project: submission of the project application and other required documents to the New Jersey Department of Education; amendments to the district’s Long Range Facilities Plan and their submission to the education department; funds for LAN Associates, the district’s agency of record, for services relating to furthering the project; district advertisement, solicitation and award bids for work on the A wing, pending approval by the borough’s planning board, the Camden County Office of Education and the education department.

Since the temporary budget measure passed, Catalano has to file the document with the county superintendent’s office no later than March 22. Once feedback is received, he is expected to make another presentation to the board at its subsequent public meeting on March 25. A finalized budget would be on track for approval by the end of April.

In other news: 

  • Superintendent Chuck Klaus revealed his plans to take the district into its long-planned-for Phase 2 of increased in-school instruction, beginning March 1 for kindergarten through second grade and later for grades three through 12. 
  • The board recognized Haddonfield Memorial High School seniors Chloe Santana and Alexander Roseman for becoming National Merit Scholarship finalists, as well as Audrey DeCristofaro, Ciara Smith, Chris Carr and Olivia Mae Smith Thatcher for their respective performances in the Haddonfield Human Relations Commission’s Martin Luther King Jr. 2021 essay contest.
  • Recognition from the board also was extended to Haddonfield Middle School students Penelope Incollingo, Marlina Kadar and Clara Duffey for their performance in the same contest. 
  • Klaus announced that Valerie Cline would retire from her post as Tatem Elementary principal, effective at the end of the school year.