Friday, April 23, 2010

Defeated Budget

As you may have heard, the Harding Township School budget was defeated on Tuesday, April 20 by a vote of 256-247. Following a defeated budget, the district is required to submit budget documentation and details to the local governing body, in this case the Harding Township Committee. Ultimately, the Harding Township Committee will establish an aggregate tax levy which they determine is appropriate. The Board of Education will have to make cuts in school expenses and programs, as necessary, in order not to exceed the Committee’s determined tax levy amount.

Our proposed budget included a 2.6% tax levy increase (third lowest in the county), equaling $50 on the average assessed Harding Township home. The district was able to achieve this by examining all expenditures, making several reductions, applying for educational grants and implementing cost savings measures. Additional cuts were not implemented by the district in light of their impact on your child’s educational experience. If the Township Committee requires additional cuts, we will be required to re-examine all of these areas. As we have seen in other districts in New Jersey, commonly cut programs include interscholastic sports and afterschool activities, such as clubs, music programs and school plays. Depending on the reductions required by the Township Committee, these activities will be discussed as possible areas of elimination. Class sizes may also be impacted if we are forced to reduce our teachers. In the long term, we should also be mindful that any money cut from the budget will create a lower base for future budgets, thus severely limiting our ability to make up for lost investments and /or reinstate eliminated programs in future years. The severity of the cuts will depend on how extensively the Township Committee decides to cut the permitted tax levy.

The current deadline for a tax levy decision from the Township Committee is May 19. The Township Committee is meeting on April 28, 2010 and May 19, 2010. The Board of Education is meeting on April 26, 2010 and tentatively May 10, 2010.

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