A school budget is a planning document. Although limited by state statutes and regulations, it demonstrates what the District values and plans to do. As with any plan, it must be flexible when events which can-not be reasonably expected occur.
On Monday, April 27, 2015, the Allamuchy Township Board of Education will consider for adoption the proposed budget and tax levy for the 2015–2016 school year. The Board adopted a preliminary budget for review by the Department of Education on March 23, 2015. The proposed budget, when it is approved by the
Department of Education, will be published in the Express Times and also available for examination in the Board of Education offices.
The process of developing the 2015–2016 budget began in October 2014. The Board of Education, through the various committees, gives the administration recommendations grounded in policy for the development of the budget. Typically these policy recommendations would focus on considerations such as programming, facilities and personnel. As the process advances, discussions on the interplay of the policy recommendations with fiscal considerations such as high school tuition, contractual obligations and fixed costs and how these matters affect the tax levy lead to regular revisions of the draft budget. In mid-March, the budget process comes to a culmination with the release from the State of the State aid figures. The Board adopts a preliminary budget for State Department of Education review. After a public hearing, the last step is the adoption of the budget. Throughout the process, including at the final hearing, the Board is able to revise the budget.
Even after the adoption of the budget and the striking of the tax levy, line items within the budget, but not the tax levy, are subject to modification with approval from the Department of Education. The two most significant limitations in the budget process are the 2% tax levy cap and flat or diminished state aid. Fortunately, in previous years, the District’s budget and tax levy did not meet the 2% limit, allowing the District to utilize the underused portion known as banked cap. This year’s budget goes to the full 2% tax levy cap plus utilizes available banked cap. Approximately 85% of the preliminary budget is comprised of contractual or otherwise fixed expenses. The administration toiled meticulously over the revenue and expense line items to reach the proposed budget. Many of the most important operative considerations are:
· All the current educational programming in the District will be continued, including music, art, full-day kindergarten and a robust co-curricular program;
· The budget anticipates the benefits of a shared chief school administrator;
· Due to enrollment and an increased tuition rate, high school tuition to Hackettstown increased by over
· $500,000, which is more than can be raised by the allowable tax levy increase;
· The tuition to Hackettstown is being managed by averaging payments over several years to account for the fluctuations in the number of Allamuchy students attending Hackettstown High School. We are grateful for the cooperative relationship we have with our partner district that allows us to negotiate this favorable budget scenario;
· Health insurance costs increased by approximately 8%.
· The administration and the Board investigated, but rejected as resulting in an increase of costs, privatizing some aspects of operations including transportation and custodial services;
· Some staffing is being reorganized or restructured to economize...