ATLANTIC CITY — The city’s school board approved the district’s 2019-20 budget Tuesday, which increases spending by $5 million.
Under the budget, spending will increase from $181.6 million last year to $186.6 million this year. The amount raised by taxes will remain the same as last year’s, at $81.9 million.
School Business Administrator Celeste Ricketts could not say what the tax rate would be. It depends on how much the city receives from the casinos as part of the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program, she said.
The budget process started in October and finished in March, Ricketts said.
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Ricketts talked about some of the additions the district will be making, including two additional math coaches and a literacy coach.
“Salaries and employee benefits are 65 percent of the overall general fund budget,” Ricketts said.
The number of students who decided to attend the Atlantic County Institute of Technology over Atlantic City High School increased from 449 to 471.
There was some concern expressed among the audience that some parents may be sending their children to ACIT because of negative perceptions of safety at the high school.
Board member Kim Bassford suggested a bring-your-parent-to-school day, so parents could see all the improvements that have been made at the high school.
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Superintendent Barry S. Caldwell said the district is building stronger relationships with both Atlantic Cape Community College and Stockton University, which can only benefit the high school.
Assistant Superintendent Sherry Yahn said the district is making headway on its chronic absenteeism problem. There used to be only one school with an acceptable number of absences, but now, the number has risen to three schools.
“The direction is there, and the incentives are there to reduce chronic absenteeism,” Caldwell said.