The finance committee and administration of the Asbury Park Board of Education are working this week to pare down an expected increase of $2 million in property taxes in the 2020-2021 school budget.
The budget is scheduled to be voted on May 7 at a meeting at 7 p.m.
At this time the budget features an increase of approximately $260 per household a year.
Board President Angela Ahbez-Anderson earlier this week said the cost of the increase, if there is no change today, amounts to about $5 to $6 dollars per week.
“That’s a cup of coffee, a doughnut. I’m asking residents during this unprecedented time to think of the children, give them the chance to be educated,” she said.
The total per pupil cost decreases by $3077 to $29,888 from $32,965. The state average cost per pupil is $21,000.
After introducing its preliminary budget April 30 board members decided, in light of the current health and economic crisis, to find ways to reduce costs and the tax increase.
The last state school report card, issued by the department of education, noted Asbury Park’s high per pupil cost and its high ratio of staff to administration costs.
The tax increase follows a $5,157,908 reduction in state aid.
That, said Board Member Barbara Lesinski, is what the finance committee is looking at this week before the budget hearing is held on Thursday, May 7 at 7:00 p.m. in a specially called meeting, via telecommunication.
“We are trying to soften the blow of the tax increase, they are sharpening their pencils,” she said of the finance committee.
Lesinski also said the board has been making cuts to the budget in recent years.
“Every year we’ve been cutting,” she said.
Residents may log onto the district’s website and email questions for the board to answer at the meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a phone number, 1-312-757-3121, so residents may call and listen in to the meeting and the budget hearing. They will not be able to speak.
The conference ID is 800-684-437. It will begin at 7:00 p.m.
Email comments may include budget questions and general questions as well. Emails should include residents’ first name, last name and address.
All public comments received prior to the close of the public comment segment of the meeting will be read into the public record.
Lesinski said the finance committee held at least two meetings this week to look for ways to cut down on property taxes.
Total enrollment in the district is down 46 pupils to 1864.
The total budget fund-operating budget has a reduction of $1,956,130 to $3,682,539.
The total operating budget for the 2020/2021 school year is $59,475,267 reflecting a $5,475,267 decrease.
The total per pupil cost decreases by $3077 to $29,888 from $32,965.
As to why the administrative costs are so high comparatively, Lesinski said she didn’t know but it was something the finance committee was looking into at their meetings this week.