School board adopts preliminary $70.1 million budget

| 01 Mar 2012 | 11:42

WEST MILFORD — The West Milford Board of Education approved its 2012-2013 preliminary budget Tuesday night, a budget that increases less than two percent over last year.

The budget totals $70.1 million with $51,252,781 being raised through taxes. With this preliminary budget, the tax increase for an average home would be $38.07.

No job cuts, full-day kindergarten added

This budget includes a full-day kindergarten program, something discussed in the district for a long time.

“A year ago, we came before you and asked you to vote on a budget that was challenging at best and had many, many cuts in it," said interim Superintendent John Petrelli. "And you did support it, and I’m here tonight to thank you for that; because what that has done for us as a school district has provided us an opportunity to go forward in this district, and to give back to the community what we believe the community is entitled to.”

“This budget has no cuts in it, nobody’s losing their job. What it does have in it, is additional program and personnel in support of the educational programs of this school district," Petrelli continued. "The centerpiece, the program that we think is vital to the growth and advancement of this school district, is full-day kindergarten to be implemented in all six elementary schools.”

Petrelli said West Milford is one of only four districts in Passaic County that does not provide full-day kindergarten, the others being Pompton Lakes, Wayne, and Ringwood.

Petrelli said his research has revealed that there has been talk of implementing full-day kindergarten for years, specifically noting the intent of former Superintendent Bernice Colefield to implement a program when she returned to the district in 2005. Petrelli said the district is committed to implementing a full-day kindergarten program with this budget and the support of the public.

Budget stays below 2 percent cap

The school board approved the preliminary budget at its Feb. 28 meeting. It will be reviewed by the board over the next few weeks and changes can be made until the final budget is presented at the public hearing on March 27.

The proposed budget stays below the two percent cap required by the state. Business Administrator Barbara Francisco said the recent revaluation of homes in West Milford has increased the assessments. The average assessed home in 2011-2012 was $133,700 and the school taxes for that average home were $4,511.08 for total revenue of $50,367,069. The average assessed home in 2012-2013 is $247,000 and the school taxes proposed are $4,549.15 for total revenue of $51,252,781. Francisco said the tax levy proposed for 2012-2013 is a 1.76 percent increase which is below the state mandated 2 percent cap. The tax levy estimated in the preliminary budget would result in an annual increase of $38.07 to the average homeowner, if passed.