Friday, April 16, 2010

Budget Update

In recent weeks, you may have learned about the difficulties associated with school funding and its impact on the residents of Harding Township. We are writing to let you know what is happening and to clarify the issues behind the headlines. There are three points that we feel need clarification.

1. The Harding Township School will receive zero state aid for the next school year. Therefore, the full responsibility of the operating budget is placed on the Harding Township Residents. Meanwhile, state and county officials continue to place unfunded mandates on our school district.

2. The proposed budget calls for the lowest tax levy increase in over TEN YEARS.

This levy increase is one of the LOWEST in Morris County, as many districts are proposing levy increases over 8%.

3. Every year the Harding Township School District examines all expenditures and continues to employ fiscal responsibility. Last year, the district saved $146,067 to help our taxpayers offset the levy increase for the 2010-2011 school year. As a result of this fiscal prudence, the district received a decrease in state aid equivalent to the amount in excess surplus. The Board of Education is still committed to returning the money to offset the levy even though Commissioner Schundler has given the district the autonomy to spend it. This is evidence of the Board’s commitment towards fiscal prudence. As a result of this commitment and the reduction in state aid, we have been forced to make many cuts, which total more than 7% of the originally proposed budget. These cuts include our elementary world language program, summer KickStart program, computers for the media center and the wellness program for teachers. The district considered several other cuts including our sports program. We have worked diligently this year to implement cost savings and change the way we do business, and many shared-services have been implemented with the township. The district has aggressively pursued educational grants and private funds to offset taxes!

The taxpayers in Harding can be assured that the district will continue to deliver the best education with utmost fiscal responsibility. In March 2010 the district received notification indicating a “highly performing” status as a result of the state monitoring process. This is the highest rating given to school districts.

I look forward to your feedback, questions and concerns! You can also find updated information on our school website at http://www.hardingtwp.org.

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