NORTH WILDWOOD — North Wildwood school Superintendent Michael Buccialia, marking his eighth year as superintendent here, said this year also marks the most difficult budget process he has seen.

“A great deal of time was spent adjusting, readjusting to new numbers,” Buccialia said of the ever-changing state aid figures provided to the district.

Now, with all the numbers in place, the district has introduced a $9.75 million budget for the 2010-11 school year that comes with a tax increase of just under a penny.

The school tax rate, including debt service, was 18.16 cents per $100 of assessed valuation last school year, and under the new budget the rate should reach 19 cents.

Taxpayers’ portion of the budget comes to $6.66 million, which covers both operations and debt service expenses.

The budget is up about $380,000 from the previous year’s spending plan of $9.37 million.

School business administrator John Hansen said the increases can be attributed largely to contractual salary increases and increases in benefit costs, particularly health insurance.

The district lost about $430,000 in state aid, but managed to avoid layoffs because a couple of noncertificated positions have been left vacant.

Enrollment, meanwhile, has remained fairly constant, with 319 students currently in the pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.

“We’re starting September with all the current programs and personnel in place,” Buccialia said.

He called the budget process the most difficult he has undertaken as superintendent, particularly because of the reduction in state aid and the changing availability of information from the state.

A public hearing on the school’s budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at Margaret Mace Elementary School, 1201 Atlantic Ave.

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