RPS budget would make average school tax $4,350

Per-pupil costs expected to increase $3,660 to $16,985


The proposed Roosevelt Public School budget relies on the average homeowner paying a tax increase of $381 this year.

Voters will take to the polls on April 20 to cast ballots for or against the proposed $1.4 million tax levy in support of the near $2.5 million spending plan for 2010-11. The proposed budget is $149,601 less than last year’s school budget.

A resident with a home assessed at the borough’s average of $247,696 would pay $4,350 in school taxes this year, meaning a tax bill increase of about $381. The tax rate would amount to $1.76 per $100 of assessed value.

The top revenue sources for this year’s school budget are the tax levy, state aid, tuition and miscellaneous revenue.

This year’s anticipated tuition revenue amounts to $36,400 and anticipated miscellaneous revenue totals $4,200. The spending plan relies on state aid totaling $706,785, which is a 15.66 percent decrease from the aid it received last year.

New Jersey released state aid figures on March 17, leaving the school with only a few days to complete its budget before submission to the Monmouth County executive superintendent of schools for approval, according to Principal and interim Superintendent of Schools Shari Payson.

“Roosevelt Public School already works with a barebones budget and these reductions place tremendous constraints on the school,” Payson said. “Our goal with this budget is to meet the limitations placed on us by the state while keeping our educational programs, teachers and staff intact.”

In trying to compensate for the loss of state aid, the school decided against reducing its barebones teaching staff.

Payson said Roosevelt teachers are among the lowest paid teachers in Monmouth County. She also said teachers already contribute to the cost of their healthcare coverage, and will be required to increase that amount under the 2011-2014 contract.

Instead of cutting staff, the school applied $50,000 from its surplus to the new budget. The school decided not to apply all of its current surplus to save $136,262 in the event of an emergency, according to Payson.

The school also took money earmarked to pay for new students who move into town to attend East Windsor schools (the town does not have its own middle or high school) and applied it to the budget. Tuition cost $859,219 last year. The school has budgeted $818,800 for tuition this year.

The school also reduced costs in certain areas. The basic and remedial skills budget will receive $3,116 less, or $13,350, this year. Child study team costs were cut $2,692 to $4,900. Student transportation costs were reduced $25,160.

The cost reductions translate to students having Spanish instruction once per week instead of twice per week. Students will have four hours less gym and health instruction. Some classes will be combined. There was also an overall reduction in funding for before and after-school programs, some of which may become fee-based

The proposed budget also contains cost increases in various areas. Regular programming costs would increase $25,513 to $673,985 this year. Instructional service improvements would cost $11,656 more than last year to total $63,530. Special education costs would also increase $6,196 to $71,065 this year. The extracurricular activities budget will increase from $2,426 last year to $4,000 this year. Health services costs increase $2,942 to $10,050. The school library budget would increase from $545 to $3,000. General administration costs would increase $1,850. School administration costs would increase $3,959. Operation and maintenance services costs would rise by $102,402. Health benefit costs increase $74,439. Food service costs would increase $7,136. And total support service expenditures are expected to increase $149,172 to approximately $1.67 million.

The budget also contains a debt service payment of $79,564.

The school presented its per-pupil cost calculations, noting that the proposed budget reflects a $16,985 per-pupil cost, which is $3,660 more than last year.

If the budget fails at the polls, the Roosevelt Borough Council will review the spending plan and try to reach an agreement on a total budget and tax levy amount. If the council fails to reach agreement, the budget moves to the county executive superintendent of schools for determining a total budget and tax levy amount.

In the election, voters will also cast ballots to fill three Board of Education seats. Incumbents Jaymie Kosa and Kelly Yang are running uncontested to keep their seats. Linda Grayson opted not to run again and Edward Goetzmann is running uncontested for her seat.