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World Language Program, New Laptops in Budget

Board of Ed approves budget with lowest tax increase in eight years.

The 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 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 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 , 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.

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 ; completing lighting controls and upgrades at ; a partial roof replacement project at ; re-paving the parking lot at the ; installing a new computer lab at ; 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.

Maxim Sapozhnikov March 27, 2012 at 01:09 PM
"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." Mr. James Tevis lied to the public, plain and simple. I pointed it out on the meeting but the Board prefers to stick to their lies. The budget has, in fact, been increased by 4.7%, definitely NOT a small bump. What grew by 0.81% was the taxpayers' levy, which does not account for larger-than-anticipated state aid (thank you, Gov. Christie), huge health insurance savings that weren't spent on turf, and lower enrollment. Neither of these will likely materialize next budget year - and the taxpayers will be eventually asked to cough up extra funds for programs that the Board throws in today just because they can. It's for the children, right? One of the Board members has admitted privately that they are adding "fat" to the budget this year so they have things to trim later. The idea of leaving the money in taxpayers' pocket has apparently never crossed their minds! And why should they care? School budgets don't have to pass the voters' scrutiny anymore.
Maxim Sapozhnikov March 27, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Look at the bigger picture. The policy of making Montville an attractive place due to its school district could have been a good idea for a while but it turned into a ticking bomb. People are not as bound to their childhood places as they used to be a few decades earlier. Empty-nesters, baby-boomers, and singles move out in droves fleeing high taxes, and new families that move in further increase the shared school tax burden. Nothing short of taxpayers' revolt will stop this circle.
Montville Resident March 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM
What ever became of all that money that was not spent on turfing the high school field?
Maxim Sapozhnikov March 28, 2012 at 01:44 AM
It was quietly absorbed into the budget and spent on the Board's wishlist of small projects.
lexih March 28, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Good job expanding the Foreign Language program to include the elementary school. What ever happened though to the plans to extend full-years of foreign language to students in the middle school, instead of the one-quarter system in sixth and seventh grade and optional full-year system in eighth grade? Foreign language was the one subject that I felt my Montville education completely failed to prepare me for in college, and increasing the availability of full-year language courses at the middle school would definitely help improve our program at the high school. My only other concern is that while I feel parking passes at $75 are too high, parking passes of $10 seem far too low. There are numerous costs associated with having a student parking lot, including construction costs, snow removal and stipending a teacher as a lot attendant to make sure nobody leaves during the school day. Despite these large costs, a very limited amount of students get to enjoy the privileges of this lot--only the senior students with cars. Subsidizing the cost of their parking so much seems unfair to the other students. Furthermore, parking at school is a privilege, not a right. When students get to college and in the real world, they're going to have to face much higher parking costs. If you look at the Benzes and BMWs in the senior lot, you know that financial concern isn't an issue for many student drivers, but obviously a discount can be worked out for those who need it.
lexih March 28, 2012 at 02:15 AM
(continuation of last post) In short, I feel that subsidizing the cost by $65 is far too much. I'd say a $30 or $40 parking fee would probably be manageable to most students, reflect the extra service they get by using the lot, and bring in a bit more revenue. Again, there would be a measure in place if students have some kind of financial difficulty or concern. In my experience, the school's been very generous with that sort of measures in special cases.
Montville Resident March 28, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Not everyone in this town can afford "Benzes and BMS's" and the "financial concern" for ALOT of people in this town is quite high! And no one should have to go through the embarrassment to get "a discount for those who need it".
lexih March 29, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Montville Resident- I went through the "embarrassment" of getting a discount when my family needed one for AP testing last year. I assure you I survived the embarrassment. In fact, I managed to get enough credits through the program that I'm graduating college a year early. If I didn't ask, I wouldn't have had the privilege of taking the tests. In most other states, I've found out from my friends in college, the taxpayers of the town subsidize AP testing. I'm just saying that the taxpayers shouldn't subsidize the privilege of student driving. I know not everyone can afford the cars in the student lot, and I'm not suggesting an unreasonable amount. I just think student contributions should be a little more than $10.

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