Medford district welcomes students back, passes budget with no tax increase

Fiscal plan includes funds for increasing number of special education students

Decked out in custom “welcome back” t-shirts, members of Medford Township Public Schools’ administration celebrated students’ return to five full days of school per week. All students were invited back on Monday, April 26, when administrators walked through the halls with balloons (Keira Scussa/Special to The Sun).

Medford residents will not see an increase in property taxes this year.

After township council announced its ninth year of keeping the tax rate stagnant, the Medford Township School District (MTSD) followed suit. During a hearing for the district’s 2021-‘22 budget, Business Administrator Marie Goodwin confirmed residents will not pay for an increase in spending.

The budget of more than $54 million was approved on April 26. It includes funding for an increasing number of special education students, the replacement of four buses and technology improvements, among other needs. 

Budgets for the district have been tight since 2018, when the state began cutting aid for schools.  Medford has seen a reduction of $814,959, more than a quarter of which is taken out of the 2021-’22 budget.

“It’s not really fair that we’re losing money,” Goodwin said.

She expects the district to lose more than $300,000 in aid in the 2022-’23 school year. But despite lower state funding, the district has only made cuts during the current school year, when at least 21 staff positions were eliminated. For the 2021-’22 year, no cuts were made, though funding for transportation and district administration was reduced.

“I feel next year’s budget realized the board of education’s two main goals,” said Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi. “It maintains the standard of high-quality, educational programming Medford has come to expect and is fiscally responsible, minimizing the tax impact to our residents.”

Del Rossi and Keira Scussa, administrative director of educational programming and planning, also celebrated the return of all students to five full days of schooling. The administrative staff donned “welcome back” T-shirts and visited each school in a decorated bus.

“We had a truly successful day,” Scussa noted as she shared a slide presentation with photos of the day and quotes from teachers and students.

“It was fantastic seeing our students return to school today,” wrote Taunton Forge Principal Lucas Coesfeld. 

Kirby’s Mill teacher Andy Reuter added, “Thank goodness! It’s been a long time coming.”