District presents $72.4M budget

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The West Milford Board of Education presented its $72.4 million preliminary budget for the 2014-2015 school year Tuesday night, a budget that increases the district's spending by over $2.5 million over the current school year.

If this budget remains as proposed, the average homeowner with a house assessed at $247,000 will pay a total of $4,780 in school taxes for the upcoming school year, up $127.21 from the current year.

The tax levy stays within the 2 percent cap mandated by the state. And with the district moving its election to November last year, as suggested by the governor, there will not be a public vote on the school budget.

Highlights in funding
The district will receive $75,000 more this year in state aid over last year. Its Medicaid reimbursement is $7,317 less.

The district is also using $850,000 from its capital reserve, an increase of $705,000 over last year's withdrawal. It is using $150,000 from its Maintenance Reserve Fund, the same as last year. These amounts will help fund capital projects and maintenance costs.

Maintenance projects for the upcoming year include replacing the boiler at West Milford High School with costs offset in part by grant funds, and the leaking roof in the auditorium section of the high school will also be replaced.

Board Secretary Barbara Francisco said the new boiler will not be tied to the hot water as it is currently and will therefore not need to be run through the summer months, saving money and being more energy efficient. She said the high school auditorium provides the district with a great source of revenue from rental use, and roof repair is necessary before there is any further damage from current leaks, and prior to future planned upgrades to the interior. Marshall Hill School will also get a roof replacement in conjunction with the removal of leaking skylights that are currently in place.

Slight decline in enrollment

Enrollment is anticipated to dip slightly for 2014-2015 by 40 students compared to current totals. Francisco said enrollment of younger students for grades junior kindergarten through 6 has remained the same at 1,862 students, while middle school enrollment for grades 7 through 8 will drop by 44 to 571 students. The high school is anticipated to have four additional students over last year with 1,186 students enrolled in grades 9 through 12. The total of students enrolled in West Milford schools for 2014-2015 is anticipated to be 3,619.

What's next

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for March 25 and is a Regular Meeting. The following meeting on April 29 is the public hearing for the budget, after which it is expected to be adopted. Changes may be made to it. Both meetings are held in the Westbrook School Media Center and begin at 7:30 p.m.

Do you have comments on the school board spending? Tell us your thoughts at westmilfordmessenger.com.

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