World Language Program, New Laptops in Budget
Board of Ed approves budget with lowest tax increase in eight years.
The Montville Township Board of Education unanimously voted Monday night to adopt its final $70,550,540 budget for the 2012-13 school year.
The total budget amount is increased .81 percent from last year's budget, the lowest budget increase in the past eight years according to the district's Business Administrator James Tevis. The tax rate for the budget is $2.24 per $100 of assessed value and $63,672,519 will need to be levied in local taxes, with the impact on the average assessed home totaling an increase of $83.20. In 2011, taxes increased $176.38 on the average assessed home and in 2010, the increase was $243.94.
The school district opted to eliminate its annual budget vote by agreeing to keep the budget within the state-mandated 2 percent cap. Now, Montville taxpayers will head to the polls in November to choose their school board members. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Fried explained this to a group of students who attended Monday night's public hearing on the final budget in the Montville Township High School cafeteria.
Fried said that thanks to a $978,852 increase in state aid for the 2012-13 school year, the district has been able to maintain class sizes in all of the district schools, help launch new initiatives and complete several capital projects.
At the Robert R. Lazar Middle School, the Language Arts Literacy program will be expanded so that students receive 84 minutes of instruction by the same teacher. Sixth graders will also receive an inquiry-based research class for an entire marking period and course levels will be modified throughout the school to allow for more educational opportunities, Fried said.
All ninth-graders at Montville Township High School will be offered algebra or geometry courses and a three-year science research program will be created, starting with a limited number of sophomores in the 2012-13 school year. A state-mandated financial literacy course worth 2.5 credits for the semester will also be offered to all students entering their junior year.
Districtwide, an elementary school world language program will be piloted, new laptop computers will be provided to several teachers and old computers will be replaced with newer ones. The district will also be adding a part-time athletic trainer and full-time physical therapist, a position which is currently contracted out.
Student activity fees for teams and clubs will be eliminated and student parking fees will be reducted from $75 to about $10, Fried said.
Some new positions will be added districtwide, including five elementary lunch aides, 14 kindergarten aids, a Mandarin teacher at the middle school and another at the high school and a special education teacher at the high school. An education technology specialist will also be brought on and two stipends will be available for athletic trainers. But there are some reductions included in the budget as well, Fried said.
"We're reducing two sections of elementary classroom teachers because of enrollment," he said.
The district will, however, be completing several capital projects with next year's budget, including replacing four exterior doors at the Cedar Hill Elementary School; completing lighting controls and upgrades at Hilldale Elementary School; a partial roof replacement project at Valley View Elementary School; re-paving the parking lot at the William Mason School; installing a new computer lab at Woodmont Elementary School; installing air conditioning in six classrooms at Lazar Middle School; re-keying all building locks at the high school and more.
"This is more than just a maintenance budget. We actually are bringing improvements in these areas," Fried said.