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Absecon board divides extra state aid between tax relief, school funding

ABSECON — The Board of Education on July 24 voted to split an additional $1.3 million in state aid between tax relief and operational costs.

After a long executive session closed to the public, the board agreed to put $253,000 of the funds toward tax relief and $1,031,405 toward school funding.

This will reduce a proposed property-tax increase by 3.65  cents per $100 of assessed value. Absecon initially was forecasting a school-tax increase of more than 7 cents per $100.

“We basically went through the wish list that we had, and we decided that we could give back to the taxpayers half of what we proposed to increase,” said board member John Rynkiewicz.

The additional state aid received is an increase of 81 percent, the highest percentage increase for school aid in Atlantic County.

Gov. Phil Murphy last month released revised state aid figures for school districts. The budget includes an additional $351 million in kindergarten through 12th-grade school aid for 391 districts and redistributes $32 million from 172 overfunded districts to those considered underfunded.

Other districts to receive additional aid in the county were Atlantic City and Hammonton.

“This is actually a dream come true, because our district was spiraling out of control,” said Sherri Liepe, a representative for the Absecon Education Association. “Honestly, we were wondering if we would be able to pay the school bills next year. There’s unexpected costs and we have no reserve.”

“We have lost so many positions to attrition,” continued Liepe. “We were working with one counselor for almost 900 kids.”

The next Board of Education meeting will be 7 p.m. Aug. 28 in the H. Ashton Marsh School library.

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