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‘Creating a contingency’

Tabernacle school board increases local tax levy by 5.94%

The Tabernacle school district has navigated a decrease in its state aid over the last six years by using the S-2 school funding formula.

In the final year of the legislation’s seven-year phase in reductions, the district was facing a state aid reduction of $280,445 for 2024-’25. In April, the Tabernacle board of education adopted its $12.91-million general fund spending plan, with a debt service of $1.25 million and taxes to be raised of $9.03 million.

But with two bills signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in May, the district has had 45% of the reduction, or $126,200, restored. Its state aid reduction impact for this year is now $154,245. The legislation also gave the school board a one-time opportunity to recoup funding lost through S-2 by increasing the local tax levy by up to 9.9%.

“We fully recognize that any additional increase to the local tax levy is a difficult decision,” schools Superintendent Shaun Banin said in a letter to the community posted to the district’s website. “However, the board of education recognized the need to take action to ensure that our students are given all of the tools and resources to enable their success moving forward.”

The board of education held a special meeting on June 10 and revised a previous budget that would have increased the local tax levy by 3.26%. A new financial plan will increase the local tax levy by 5.94%, a change that will mean the average assessed home value of $274,369 will result in a monthly increase of $17.06 in the tax instead of $9.51.

“This change in our district’s budget will enable us to negate the impact of the S-2 loss for the 2024-2025 school year,” Banin noted, “while also creating a contingency in the budget to assist with any currently unforeseen special education expenses.

“There were multiple options that the board of education discussed,” he added, “but it was agreed upon to move forward with the one that ensured that the needs of the students were met with the least amount of tax impact to the town.”

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