The proposed 2008-2009 budget for Red Bank’s primary and middle schools hasn’t been set, but Superintendent Laura Morana hints the spending plan will be little changed from last year’s, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

From the article, by reporter Larry Higgs:

The best word officials are using to describe the Board of Education budget for the coming school year is maintenance.

While the total budget figure hasn’t been finalized, the district seems to be on track to spend what’s needed and keep taxes down for a second year, said Laura C. Morana, superintendent of schools.

The budget is scheduled to be presented to the school board next Tuesday.

“Our goal is to do what’s in the best interest of the school system, but to (also) do a self-assessment and look at what we need verses just increasing,” said Morana, who briefed the board Tuesday.


A bonus in this year’s budget is an additional $335,803 in state aid, some of which will be used to enhance school security and could be used to fund repairs and maintenance, which the district had to put off.

Finance Committee Chairman Ben Forest gave the board a “laundry list” of items needed to keep the schools in good condition, from replacing windows in the middle school to new desks for the primary school.

Facilities Committee Chairwoman Rosemarie Kopka added a few things to the list to be considered, such as classroom computers.

Forest also said that the primary school parking lot and sidewalks need to be repaved.

“They’ve been put on the back burner,” Forest said. “A lot of it is expensive, but if we don’t do things like fix the windows, it will haunt us later with water damage. These are things we’ve got to do.”

One thing the district doesn’t have to worry about is using staffing cuts to balance the budget, Morana said.

“We’re in the second year of new programs and strategies, so were not dealing with new things,” Morana said. “We’re looking at maintaining what we have.”

One question school officials have is how much money the state will require the district to transfer to the Red Bank Charter School. Last year, $1.79 million was transferred to the charter school, which is entitled to a portion of the district’s state funding at an amount set annually by the state Department of Education.

Last year’s $15.7 million local school budget boosted taxes by one cent per $100 of property value, or $40.50 for a home valued at the average residential assessment of about $405,000.

For the second consecutive year, the administration is using zero-based budgeting, in which the spending plan is assembled from the ground up, as opposed to using the current year budget as the starting point, Morana tells Higgs.

The budget introduction is scheduled for next Tuesday at 7:30p at the primary school.

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