Freehold Boro schools facing loss of personnel

Administrators release list of programs that could get budget ax


Staff Writers

The Freehold Borough Board of Education is expected to introduce a tentative budget for the 2007-08 school year at a meeting to be held at 7 p.m. March 12 in the Park Avenue Elementary School.

According to information provided by Superinten-dent of Schools Elizabeth O’Connell on March 5, the 1,400-pupil district is facing the prospect of making significant cuts in personnel and programs.

Business Administrator Veronica Wolf said part of the reason why significant cuts are anticipated despite a 12.7 percent increase in state aid is because of new state-imposed limits on the amount of money that can be raised in local taxes and restrictions on how a large portion of the state aid can be used.

Wolf said the board is planning to introduce a budget that will total $16.6 million and raise the K-8 school tax rate by 3.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Voters will be asked to approve the budget in the April 17 school election.

K-8 school taxes are one portion of a homeowner’s overall property tax bill. The tax bill also includes municipal taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes, Monmouth County taxes and several other assessments.

According to O’Connell, the following items are under consideration for removal from the budget in the coming school year: one art teacher, one music teacher, one guidance counselor, one librarian, one media assistant, three office clerical assistants, two custodians, a math supervisor, all extracurricular sports, all extracurricular activities and supplies for the Gifted and Talented program.

The Freehold Borough school budget is not expected to include any capital improvements and professional development has been “scaled down to the bare essentials,” according to O’Connell.

The scope of library services and guidance services in all three Freehold Borough public schools may be affected by the 2007-08 budget, according to O’Connell.

Board members were expected to discuss the bud-get during a workshop meeting on March 5.

O’Connell said one area being examined is the number of sections in particular grade levels. She said administrators may reduce the number of fifth-grade sections from six to five and the number of fourth-grade sections from six to five beginning in September.

She said those reductions would result in larger class sizes, but might allow the district to retain some library and guidance personnel who are now on the chopping block.