School budget projected to rise

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    WEST MILFORD-Despite an anticipated slight dip in enrollment following several years of virtually flat growth, the preliminary Board of Education budget is projected to climb by $2.2 million for the 2005-2006 school year to $58.3 million, a 3.2 percent increase. The budget exceeds spending caps and several ways to cut overall spending are being introduced. Those figures were part of a preliminary budget presentation by district Business Administrator Steven J. Cea and Supt. Robert Gilmartin at the board of education meeting, Jan. 18. Projections are for future declines in the number of students in the system, barring "some external factor like development," Cea explained. Total schools enrollment for the 2006 school year are expected to be 4,626, compared to 4,656 in the current school year and 4,728 in 2004. Cea told the board that under S1701, the recently passes state law capping budget growth, any budget increases "over two-percent" must be funded in next year's budget. Part of the problem in developing the preliminary budget stems from the state's having yet to promulgate regulations to implement S1701 and subsequent expected amendments, Cea said. In addition, he said there has been a 21.4 percent decline in special revenue funding which comes from state and federal grants. While Cea and Gilmartin stressed that every effort was made to control costs, Gilmartin blamed the increases on "budget adjustments and the impact of new legislation. He said even with all their efforts the budget initially came in more than $1 million over the state's budget cap. That's despite Gilmartin's assertion he's been told by outside education sources that West Milford's school budget is "$2.5 million below the northern New Jersey average" in administrative costs. The result is 13 adjustments that provide cuts in services and alternative ways to raise funds. Rather than building the costs of clubs into the school budget, various extracurricular clubs will be run the town's community adult school. Those wishing to participate in the clubs will have to pay a pre-established fee and minimum numbers of participants must be met for the club to exist, the board was told. A budgeted $148,500 for new technology labs won't be spent as the new labs are being postponed, Gilmartin said. Another technology cut will be in personnel. So called "technology facilitators" will be reduced 25 percent, from four to three. A transportation department van that was scheduled for replacement, won't be, resulting in an $11,000 saving. Purchase of school supplies are being slashed by 8.5 percent, or $160,584, the board was told. Retirements also will save some money for the district. The district "initially projected five," but the number is now expected to be 15, resulting in $390,000 savings, Cea said. The high school has student parking spaces for 200 cars. Until now the spaces have been free, but student drivers will have to count out $50 for a parking permit under the new proposal. "That will raise $10,000 to "offset salaries in extracurricular accounts," Gilmartin said. However, to meet changing needs, the district plans to ad a special education supervisor to focus on curriculum for the special education teams in the various schools, and a part-time secretary to support the four teams in the elementary schools. "Those adjustments bring us right on target to the legal limit of what we are allowed to spend," the superintendent said.