VINELAND - Vineland school leaders plan to eliminate the district's summer school, adult education and intramural sports programs but have not eliminated the possibility of layoffs as a means to balance their budget.
School board members introduced a $189,633,615 budget Monday night that calls for no tax increase but offers a series of deep cuts to offset losses in state aid and excess surplus.
School officials said they still have to examine personnel matters before determining what, if any, layoffs there might be.
"I have no choice but to leave it very vague," Superintendent Maryann Banks said.
She declined further comment after Monday's meeting, directing questions to school board member Anthony Fanucci, the board's finance committee chairman.
Vineland lost more than $13 million when Gov. Chris Christie took "excess surpluses" from New Jersey school districts last month, claiming surpluses greater than 2 percent of the total budget. In addition, Vineland also stands to lose about $9 million in state aid under Christie's proposed budget.
School board members used about $12 million of remaining surplus to balance the budget proposed Monday. The school tax rate will remain at $1.037 per $100 of assessed value, said Kevin Franchetta, the district's business administrator.
The fact that the district was able to accrue so much money startled some, notably Eugene Medio, a former school board president who is running for the board again this year.
"Then that's $25 million of surplus that this board generated in a year and eight months?" Medio said, factoring in the excess surplus that was seized.
"Yes," Franchetta responded.
Fanucci said the district increased its surplus in anticipation of state cuts. For example, school officials put a freeze on purchase orders and saved more money by switching benefit plans for school employees and changing the purchasing process, he said.
Fanucci said that, had Christie not cut into Vineland's funds, some of the money would have been used for tax relief.
He justified the district's collection of so much money by noting that state aid payments sometimes come in late, and the large surplus is needed to fill the gap required for regular wage payments to employees.
"You actually really need to play a shell game to stay ahead of them," Fanucci said.
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