EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The average homeowner would pay about $93 a year more in taxes for township schools, under a proposed $129.2 million budget introduced earlier this month.
The 2.5 percent tax increase would boost school taxes to $3,864, for a home assessed at the township average of $208,100.
The increase from $1.813 per $100 of assessed property value to $1.857 comes on the heels of the Township Committee proposing earlier this month to increase municipal taxes by 2.4 percent.
After years of dramatic growth, the district is beginning to shrink. The kindergarten through high school district anticipates it will have 7,401.5 students next year, according to district figures provided by Business Administrator Kathy Bechtel.
If so, state figures show that overall district enrollment would be down almost six percent from 2010-11’s peak enrollment of 7,863.5. Enrollment may continue to shrink, since figures show the younger grades are generally smaller than the older grades.
As a result, the district is continuing to reassign teachers and staff, Superintendent Scott McCartney said. He said the district has eliminated the equivalent of more than 100 full-time positions over the past three to four years.
He said the district would meet other budgetary goals next year through attrition and retirements. These goals, McCartney said, include seven more state-mandated special education teachers.
District finances were also helped by about $2 million in litigation settlements relating to school construction, McCartney said.
Other plans, McCartney said, would be to reconfigure a disused metalworking shop into an alternate school program. McCartney said the district closed the program about 10 years ago. He said he believed the alternate school program would pay for itself almost immediately.
About 60 percent of the township school’s funding is the $71 million that comes from local taxpayers.
McCartney said the state regulations makes school budgeting increasingly difficult. Overall spending is generally capped at 2 percent, but McCartney said other costs continue to increase more than that. “In the long run we are really robbing Peter to pay Paul,” McCartney said.
The district anticipates holding a public hearing and final vote on the budget on April 29.
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