RED BANK SCHOOL BUDGET RAISES TAX 1.9%

taxesBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Red Bank Board of Education unveiled its 2011-12 budget last week, a plan that includes difficult decisions but avoids drastic ones, said Superintendent Laura Morana.

Sports, fields trips and capital projects are, like last year, off the table, and a handful of positions will be eliminated under the $19.45 million spending plan.

That doesn’t necessarily equate to job losses, though, Morana said.

“I am positive everyone will be absorbed” somewhere else in the district, she said.

The budget takes into account special revenue funding and the general fund. The district’s total general fund budget is $15.1 million, $12.3 million of which will be raised through taxes.

For a home assessed at the borough average of $405,522, the budget will raise taxes $40.38 a year, or $3.37 a month, Business Administrator Annie Darrow said. That represents a 1.9-percent increase from this school year‘s tax levy, she said.

Getting the spending plan within the constraints of the new two-percent property tax cap entailed a series of difficult decisions, many of which were made last year that had to stick for 2011-’12.

After-school sports and field trips are still were deemed unaffordable again. Roofing, painting and asphalt projects at the two schools are on hold, too. And like last year, Morana and Darrow voluntarily took salary freezes, foregoing 4-percent pay boosts.

No teaching positions were cut, Morana said, but two support staff positions and one hall monitor will be eliminated, although she said they’ll likely slip into other roles within the district.

Unlike last year, when the two-school district faced a reduction in state aid and therefore had to draw from its surplus to compensate for the loss, this year’s state aid came in slightly higher, at $1.9 million. Of that, $1.7 million will go to the Red Bank Charter School, leaving the district just enough for a small paving project at the primary school, Darrow said.

“It’s not a significant amount to offset the needs that we have for the following school year,” Morana said of the aid figure. “That’s why there are the reductions and a tax levy increase.”

But it’s enough to keep class sizes and teaching staff at the present level, she said.

“We are still dealing with lots of (decisions), but not very drastic,” Morana said. “So that’s a plus, in that respect.”

The public hearing on the budget will be held at 7:30p, March 29, at the primary school.

Voting on the budget will be held April 27. Polls will be open from 2 to 9p.

Here’s the school board’s preliminary budget presentation in PDF form: rbboe-prelim-budget-2011-12