Monday, May 23, 2022

Eastern Regional holds budget hearing for new school year

New biology teacher expected to stem increase in enrollment

PATRICK MCDAID//The Eastern Camden County Regional High School District recently held a public budget hearing for the 2022-’23 school year that left the board pleased about the upcoming year.

The Eastern Camden County Regional High School District recently held a public budget hearing for the 2022-’23 school year that left the board pleased about  the upcoming year. 

In the budget presentation, Superintendent Robert Cloutier was happy to note that no new student fees have been announced and that new positions are expected to be filled before the beginning of the year, particularly in a science department that has seen an uptick in overloads. 

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A new biology teacher is expected to join Eastern High in the fall to alleviate that and stem an  increase in enrollment of 76 students. 

“With some of the difficulties we experienced with staffing shortages in the science department,  and what we see continuing in the near future, we’re recommending the hiring of a new biology teacher to reduce the number of overloads we had in science this year, mostly caused by leaves of absence.” Cloutier explained. He also offered clarification on the topic of overloads.

“The ideal class size is 24 for science class, with a maximum of 28 … “ he said. “An overload is by teacher assignment, so when we have the number of sections more than the number of teaching staff, we want all of our teachers to teach five classes. But we had 24 sections, which meant our teachers had to teach six classes. 

“That would be an overload.” 

New purchases for the upcoming year include network routers and servers for the IT department; drones for educational classes; tripod replacements for camera studios; and a new scoreboard and benches for the athletic department, along with athletic equipment. The school will also geta new school bus. 

Current state aid is about $10.5 million, a nearly $1.4-million-dollar increase from the previous year. That large increase is due to debt service, special education costs and projected extraordinary aid for the year.  “Keep in mind our number in 2009 to 2010 was $9.9 million, so if you factor in the increase from debt service, we are [essentially] flat.” said Board Secretary/Business Administrator Kenneth Verrill. 

The total budget for the 2022-’23 school year is $49,683,490 and comprised of three funds: general ($43,824,373), special revenue ($2,506,352) and debt service ($3,352,765). The latter is a  repayment of bond obligations from the issuance of a three-year bond approved by voters in a December 2021 referendum. 

As for the local tax levy distribution from each contributing district, Voorhees’ share was 76.9 percent, Berlin Borough was at 17.8 percent and Gibbsboro at 5.1 percent. Berlin saw the largest percentage change, up 10.8 percent, and also contributed to 72 percent of the school’s 76 new enrollments. 

For a full breakdown of the 2022-’23 budget, visit the Eastern Regional High School website. The next board of education meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on May 18.

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