HomeHaddonfield NewsSchool board updates budget to reflect state aid

School board updates budget to reflect state aid

Students at meeting reflect on a new AAPI Club

At the March 16 Haddonfield board of education meeting, students and Asian American Cultural club members Tina Tian (left) and Asher Fred gave an overview of their club, why it was started and what it’s been up to since it was founded in 2020. (EMILY LIU/The Sun)

The Haddonfield school district has revised the preliminary budget announced and approved at the March 16 board of education meeting to add unanticipated state aid.

Superintendent Chuck Klaus said the district business administrator would give a full budget presentation at the board’s meeting Friday. With the state funds, the district has opted to bank the $200,000 received for a health-care allowance. The budget will keep a 2.3-percent tax  increase – as opposed to the original 2.8 – to pay for staffing, a fund balance or capital improvements.

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“It’s very tempting to use it; $200,000 is a lot of money,” Klaus noted. “But I think prudence would say with increased state aid, this is the better position.”

With the $449,000 aid increase, district administrators recommended putting $171,000 toward the budget fund balance, reducing it from the original $1.1 million to $960,000.

“How the (budget fund balance) is determined is unused funds from prior years,” explained  Business Administrator and Board Secretary Michael Catalano. “We have to budget some of that in the subsequent year’s budget.”

Catalano noted that while the balance has been as low as $500,000, it typically is about  $700,000. State funds will help offset the previously budgeted amount and lower it slightly. 

The state funds will also be used to offset a $23,000-increase in JIF insurance premiums and  pay for an additional elementary Math Interventionist.

“They work with students to help them progress, but they also coach teachers,” Klaus said of the interventionist role.

Another $25,000 will be used for cyber security and $35,000 will pay for the central registrar, a  part-time position in the district business office that offers help to newly enrolling students and verifies residency in Haddonfield.

Finally, $80,000 will help pay for replacement of tables in Central Elementary School’s all-purpose rooms, something that hasn’t been done in more than 15 years.

Prior to the budget presentation, high-school sophomore Asher Fred and senior Tina Tian spoke about an Asian American Cultural Club that was started in 2020 to give students a safe space for discussing the increase in hate and hate against the Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Led by advisor Alice Lee, the club has participated in an Anti-AAPI hate rally; started a relevant   book club that will soon discuss The Leavers, by Lisa Ko; and sponsored three pot luck events to celebrate holidays like the Lunar New Year and the Holi festival.

Fred, who joined the club this year to explore his South Korean heritage, shared his experience.

“There’s more than just learning about other cultures in Asia,’’ he pointed out. “I feel like what’s really meant the most to me is this community that we’ve formed. I feel like I’ve found a whole new group of people that I”ve become friends with, a whole new group of interesting people, talented people, and I don’t think it could have been done without joining the AAPI club.”

A fuller presentation on the budget will take place at the next board meeting, as will updates to Long Range Facility Planning and the district bond referendum. The session is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.

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