FRHSD introduces tentative budget

High school spending plan checks in at $180.1 million


Administrators in the Freehold Regional High School District have introduced a $180.1 million spending plan for the 2009-10 school year.

The budget was introduced during the FRHSD Board of Education meeting on Feb. 23 at the district offices in Englishtown.

The budget is tentative and subject to change before it is formally adopted by the school board later this month.

The budget is made up of three components: the general fund ($171.8 million), the special revenue fund ($3 million) and the debt service fund ($5.4 million), according to information provided by Business Administrator Sean Boyce.

In 2008-09, the general fund was $167.4 million, the special revenue fund was $3.6 million and the debt service fund was $5.4 million, for a total budget of $176.3 million.

The 2009-10 budget as introduced will ask residents of the district’s eight sending municipalities to approve a proposed general fund local tax levy of $115.3 million in the April 21 school election.

During the 2008-09 school year, the general fund local tax levy was $110.9 million.

The district’s debt service payment for 2009-10 amounts to $5.4 million and the debt service tax levy is $3.5 million. According to district administrators, these figures are based on an assumed flat level of state debt service aid funding. Residents do not vote on the debt service tax levy.

During the 2008-09 school year, the FRHSD received a total of $53.4 million in state aid. Administrators are hoping to receive the same amount of state aid for the 2009-10 school year. The state aid figures were expected to be released this week following Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s budget address.

Boyce provided an initial look at the impact that the tax levy will have on the FRHSD tax rate in each sending municipality. He noted that the tax rate information is tentative until state aid figures are known and until the board adopts a final budget.

• Colts Neck: 0.88-cent increase in the FRHSD tax rate.

• Englishtown: 4.47-cent increase in the FRHSD tax rate.

• Farmingdale: 0.47-cent decrease in the FRHSD tax rate.

• Freehold Borough: 1.99-cent increase in the FRHSD tax rate. • Freehold Township: 3.31-cent increase in the FRHSD tax rate, partially based on the impact of a townshipwide revaluation and

partially based on the fact that the number of high school students from Freehold Township is increasing while the elementary school enrollment is decreasing, therefore increasing the share of the FRHSD tax levy being paid by Freehold Township.

• Howell: 0.7-cent increase in the FRHSD tax rate.

• Manalapan: 1.26-cent increase in the FRHSD tax rate.

• Marlboro: 0.25-cent increase in the FRHSD tax rate.

The FRHSD school tax rate is used to calculate the amount of property taxes that a property owner pays to support the operation of the district. The FRHSD tax is one portion of a property owner’s overall tax bill. The tax bill also includes municipal taxes, local K-8 school taxes, Monmouth

According to Boyce, “All new dollars will be allocated to classroom instruction. The remaining components of operations amount to net zero.”

One factor which may affect the budget is the stimulus packaged recently passed by Congress. According to Boyce, whatever money from the stimulus package is awarded directly to the district will be used as a dollar-for-dollar reduction of property taxes.

There is no additional staff budgeted in the 2009-10 spending plan.

There is no second ballot question for additional funding and programs and services will be maintained based on the tentative budget.

“Recent legislative changes to the school funding formula acknowledge that the FRHSD spends below (more than $8 million below) what the state deems adequate, while at the same time increases funding to make progress toward the state meeting its own definition of ‘fair share,’ ” Boyce said.

The most recent comparative spending guide shows that the district spends $10,694 per pupil.

The FRHSD is made up of eight sending municipalities and operates six high schools. The present total enrollment is about 11,800 students.