State pledges to increase aid to all three local school districts

School election will take place on a Wednesday this year

BY JANE MEGGITT Correspondent

State aid allocations for local school districts are not as bad as some school officials feared, but aid amounts are still far below what districts received in previous years.

The Upper Freehold Regional School District (UFRSD) is slated to receive $4,054,279 from the state for the 2011-12 school year. The total reflects a $341,208 increase over what the district received last year. Four years ago, the district received $5,338,806 from the state for the 2008-09 school year. Superintendent Dick Fitzpatrick said the district appreciates any aid that the state can provide. However, despite the 1 percent increase in aid this year, the district will still have to cut almost $2 million worth of services to meet the state-mandated tax levy cap. School districts can no longer increase the tax levy more than 2 percent each year.

“We will do everything we can to focus on our prime mission — to help kids,” Fitzpatrick said.

The district has estimated needing $33.8 million to cover the costs of the 2011-12 school year. The total is $1.3 million more than the amount the district budgeted for the 2010-11 school year. Fitzpatrick said the district will continue the budgeting process in a deliberate manner, collecting all necessary data and focusing on maintaining reasonable class sizes. He said he hopes the community will support the budget at the polls.

The Millstone Township School District will receive $318,769 more state aid for the 2011-12 school year than it did last year. The district is slated to receive $4,129,146. In 2008-09, the district received $5,402,308 in state aid.

The district’s proposed budget for the 2011-12 school year totals $31.6 million, which is $56,000 more than the 2010-11 budget. Board of Education President Kevin McGovern said, “We’re certainly relieved that there will be no further reductions in state aid this year, and we’re cautiously optimistic that the promised state aid will help us fulfill our promise to deliver a budget to the community that does not increase the local tax levy.”

McGovern said the district is “not quite counting [its] chickens yet” with regard to the amount of state aid it is supposed to receive this year. He said legislative action taken on Gov. Chris Christie’s other priorities could affect education funding.

Roosevelt, which has one school for grades K-6, should receive $710,117 in state aid for the 2011-12 school year. The amount is $25,447 more than last year’s figure of $684,670. In 2008-09, the district received $811,752.

While New Jersey’s annual school elections are generally held on the third Tuesday in April, the state’s Commissioner of Education changed the election date to Wednesday, April 27, this year due to Passover.