School Districts Approve Preliminary Budgets
Verona, Cedar Grove boards pass preliminary blueprints Tuesday prior to Thursday county deadline.
[Updated: March 6, 10:00 a.m.]
Both the Verona and Cedar Grove Boards of Education met for special sessions Tuesday night to approve their respective preliminary budgets.
Each district had to hold a special session to approve the preliminary budget before the March 7 county deadline.
The Verona Board of Education unanimously approved the preliminary 2013-14 budget which amounts to $33,686,705.
“It includes an increase of 2.5 percent on the general tax levy,” said Verona Board member Joseph Bellino. “There have been numerous deletions from the requested funds and there have been some small additions to the budget.”
The additions include a new special education class to keep those students in the district, salary increases, health benefit increases and a new teacher and principal evaluation system mandated by the state.
These items “take up almost all of the cap increase we were allotted,” said Bellino.
Although the state aid figures remained flat at $843,727, board member Glenn Elliott said they are below adequacy.
“Be that as it may we are thankful and grateful we don't have to come up with additional cuts,” he said. “We were hoping the numbers would increase but they are what they are and we had to adjust the budget accordingly.”
“It’s below adequacy, be that as it may we are thankful and grateful we don’t have to come up with additional cuts. Hoping the numbers would increase but they are what they are and we had to adjust the budget accordingly,” he added.
The Verona Board of Education will meet at on March 26 for a public hearing to present and vote on the finalized budget.
The Cedar Grove Board of Education also unanimously approved its preliminary budget of $27,709,528 during a Tuesday night meeting that lasted less than ten minutes.
“Our budget is at the two percent cap,” said Superintendent Dr. Gene Polles. “This means we are looking at $103.06 as the average property tax on an average assessed home of $466,200.”
In last year’s budget, a homeowner with a home assessed at the township average of $470,400 saw their taxes rise $55.34 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
Cedar Grove's state aid figures also remained flat at $723,287. There were only four districts in the county to see an increase, said Polles.
“We would have loved to have more but it's a great thing to have flat state aid,” he said.
Board member Christine Dye highlighted some aspects of the budget.
“Last year we were able to put a number of programs and headcount into the budget so this year we are able to maintain what we started last year,” she said. “There is an increase in health insurance and special education costs.”
The budget also includes purchases for Language Arts curriculum for the sixth through eighth grades, which will be implemented in the 2013-14 school year, she added.
“The majority of the budget was being able to maintain what we put in place and continue on, which is a great message,” said Dye. “To keep forging ahead is very impressive.”
The Cedar Grove Board of Education will meet on March 12 for a full presentation to highlight the differences and changes in the budget. The board will then reconvene two weeks later to present and vote on the final budget.