Voorhees School Board Addresses Budget Challenges and State Aid Cuts

The Voorhees School Board convened to deliberate on the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, grappling with a $5 million shortfall and reduced state aid. The board voted to submit a tentative budget totaling $76,949,324, which includes a tax levy of $52,445,979 and special revenue for grant funding. The budget discussion was thorough, addressing the need to adjust revenue projections and appropriations due to the challenging financial landscape.

Central to the board’s concerns was the significant reduction in state aid, a issue that spurred extensive debate among members. The board scrutinized the District adequacy budget, local fair share, and Equalization Aid, as well as the Chapter 67 S2 law’s impact on the funding formula. This year’s budget reflects a 3.51% increase from the previous year, excluding capital reserve money, and acknowledges hurdles such as contractual, health care, and insurance increases. The board’s adherence to the 2% tax levy limit was emphasized while considering the effect of ratables on the taxpayers’ effective rate.

The budget incorporated a downward adjustment in the interest budget from $880,000 to $500,000 and a budgeting of $1 million for extraordinary aid, a decrease from the $1.4 million previously anticipated. Furthermore, the board opted to apply an additional $800,000 from this year’s funds to next year’s budget, with the auditor’s advice that $1.3 million must be applied to the subsequent year, and state software calculating an additional $292,000 to be applied. The resulting balanced revenue totaled $60,657,748.

In terms of appropriations, regular and special education instruction accounted for 64% of the total costs, with employee benefits at 18%, capital outlay at 6%, operations and maintenance at 7.9%, and insurance at 3.4%. Given the $5 million shortfall, the board explored various strategies to address the budget gap, including the potential for emergency state aid and the impact of a million-dollar cut. They reassured that despite the financial challenges, students and families would not feel the difference.

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The board underscored the importance of using anticipated surplus and replenishing reserves in light of significant capital projects undertaken in recent years. The issue of rising costs, particularly in transportation and healthcare, was addressed, with discussions on ways to mitigate these challenges.

The board discussed the building costs for a new building with cautious optimism, noting the approval of a $6 million grant. They also reviewed miscellaneous revenue adjustments, highlighting efforts to explore investment opportunities to generate more interest income for reserves. With the end of the S2 chapter 67 calculation, the board considered its potential effects on future state aid.

In other matters, the board acknowledged grants from Acme Markets, which provided $2,000 in gift cards to assist families in need within the schools. Updates from the Finance, Personnel, and Policy committees were shared, with the Finance Committee focusing on the New Jersey funding formula and long-term budget planning, while the Personnel Committee discussed hiring difficulties for Spanish teachers and the attendance bonus structure for custodians and Food Service employees. The Policy Committee reviewed revised policies and regulations pertinent to field trips, bilingual education, and sports-related concussions.

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The meeting also included recognition of the recent VMS show, with brief comments on the students’ talent. Reports on fire drills, safety drills, harassment, intimidation, bullying, suspensions, and bus evacuation drills were mentioned, as well as the closure of one OPRA request.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Neely Hackett
School Board Officials:
Monica Watson, Julie Ketover, Richard Rosen, Jacob Rosner, Maureen Rutter, Jennifer Stewart, Randi Stoopler, Julienne Verdi

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