West Milford School District presents preliminary budget for 2021-22 school year

West Milford. School officials estimate that the average increase of school taxes on the median assessed home ($242,300) will be $126.09 or $10.51 per month.

| 11 Mar 2021 | 11:23

    Superintendent of West Milford Township Public Schools Dr. Alex Anemone, presented the district’s Preliminary 2021-2022 School Budget to the Board of Education and Public at the March 9, 2021 school board meeting.

    Anemone said this is a “fiscally conservative budget,” with a total budget decrease by 1.39%, ceneral fund decrease by 1.41%, and administrative costs that remain lower than the regional limit. According to Anemone, the Northern Regional Limit is $2,419 in Administrative Costs per pupil. T

    he Administrative Costs per pupil in WMTPS are $2,072; which he said calculates to approximately $1,000,000 extra that is spent directly in WMTPS classrooms.

    Curriculum highlights

    • English Language Arts - reviews of newly implemented programs such as: Balanced Literacy /In Class Coaching, Word Study Program for Grades 3-5, and Macopin ELA Programs for Grades 7-8;

    • Math Programs such as: Conquer Math - Grades 3-4, Algebra I; Star Math - Grades 2-8; ST Math - Grades K-3;

    • Science: Knowing Science Program Grades K-5;

    • Social Studies: Updates to programs in compliance with changes to New Jersey Learning Standards;

    • Industrial Arts: Update equipment in all shops;

    • Music, Art, FCS: Revision and alignment of all Arts disciplines.

    Capital projects include:

    • New Telephone System Districtwide;

    • Continuation of Asbestos Abatement at Macopin School;

    • Paving at the Transportation Parking Lot;

    • Tile Replacement at WMHS; and

    • Carpet Tile Replacement at Marshall Hill Elementary School.

    Funding for the Capital Projects are provided via “Budgeted Withdrawal” from Capital Reserve for “Other Capital Projects” ($418,420) to be used toward the asbestos floor abatement and replacement, and infrastructure upgrades to support a new telephone system; and “Budgeted Withdrawal” ($150,000) from Maintenance Reserve for “Budgeted Required Maintenance”.

    Declining revenues, rising expenses

    Anemone described a “fundamental problem” of budget basics: “revenues are declining, and expenses are rising.”

    Anemone said that annual Budget Revenues such as State Aid have been declining sharply and dramatically. Available Fund Balance is also declining each year. The Local Tax Levy is capped by the State.

    Meanwhile, he said Budget Expenses such as salaries, health benefits, special education costs, building maintenance costs, capital projects, etc., are “rising at a greater rate than revenues.”

    Going forward, Anemone predicts the ability to fund Capital Reserve, Maintenance Reserve, etc., will be even more limited; and the number of Staff and program reductions needed will rise.

    Cuts in state aid increase pressure on local taxes

    Millions of dollars in cuts to state aid funding for the West Milford School District continue to be made each year, and those cuts are projected to reach cumulative amounts of more than $7 million in funding reductions by the 2024-25 school year.

    Approximately 80% of school budget revenues for West Milford Township Public Schools come from the Local Tax Levy.

    With a State Mandated Local Tax Levy Cap of +/- 2% (plus allowable exemptions such as health benefits, banked cap, etc.) the 10-year average for Local Tax Levy Increases for the West Milford Township Public School District is 1.54%.

    State Aid Cuts for the 2021-2022 school year were announced in February. The State cut $2,415,202 (21.4%) of Aid from West Milford’s funding for the 2021-2022 school year budget.

    A tax levy increase of 2% only increases the school budget revenues by approximately 1.5%, or approximately $1.1 million.

    Other significant reductions in General Fund Revenues for the 2021-2022 West Milford Preliminary School Budget include:

    • Cuts/Reduction in Medicaid Reimbursement = $13,390 (10.49%)

    • Absence of Restricted Misc. Revenue = $354,551 (100%)

    • Reduction in withdrawal from Capital Reserve = $86,131 (17.07%)

    General Fund Tax Levy

    The 2021-2022 Preliminary Budget General Fund Tax Levy amount of $58,666,165 reflects a 2% increase ($1,150,317) from the 2020-2021 General Fund Tax Levy amount of $57,515,848; and a 1.79% decrease in the Debt Service Tax Levy from $299,710 for the 2020-2021 school year to $294,349 for the 2021-2022 school year.

    The average increase of school taxes on the median assessed home ($242,300) will be $126.09; or $10.51 per month.

    Staff and program cuts

    The total shortage in General Fund Revenues remaining after a 2% Tax Levy increase, amounts to $1,036,802 (1.41%).

    Proposed cuts across nearly all General Fund Expenses categories had to be made to cover that shortage. Cuts will be made to General Education, Special Education, Encore/ Bilingual, Student Support, Operations and Maintenance, Administration, and Capital Outlay.

    The Proposed Cuts include:

    • Clubs, Supplies, Athletics, Professional Development, and Summer Hours

    • One administrator

    • Elementary: Media Specialist

    • WMHS: Art, Social Studies, Building Aide

    • Special Education: One Teacher (pending IEP meetings)

    • Districtwide: Music, Secretarial

    Anemone said that most of the staff cuts will be achieved through attrition - by not filling certain positions vacated by retiring/ resigning/ transferring staff members.


    The 2021-2022 Preliminary Budget must be submitted to the Executive County Superintendent for approval by March 22.

    Anemone said that administrators will continue to refine budget estimates including Health Benefits, Personnel, Utilities, etc.; and continue to find ways to economize.

    The Board of Education Operations and Finance Committee has meetings scheduled for March 16th and April 6th.

    On April 20th, the BOE has a scheduled meeting, at which they will hold a budget discussion.

    Adjustments made to the Preliminary Budget will be reviewed and discussed by the School Board at their Public Budget Hearing on April 27, after which the Board will vote to approve a Final Budget for the 2021-2022 school year.

    By the numbers
    General Fund: $72,568,959
    Special Revenue: $1,174,663
    Debt Service: $597,500
    Total budget: $74,341,122
    General Fund and Debt Service Tax Levies to support the 2021-2022 Preliminary Budget:
    General Fund: $58,666,165
    Debt Service: $294,349
    Total: $58,960,514