PLEASANTVILLE — Property taxes will rise and the local school district will still have to cut about $4 million in salaries to balance the 2017-18 budget, school officials said Tuesday.
During his budget presentation Tuesday night, school Business Administrator Elisha Thompkins made an impassioned plea to the school board to stop fighting among themselves and start working for the students to make the tough decisions ahead.
“We need to get together as a team and stop attacking, creating accusations and innuendo that are not even factual just because we don’t agree,” he said. “It isn’t important that we all agree. But it is important to set an example. I have sat here for 10 years and seen hatred and frustration. I’ve had enough and I’m sure you have. We need to set an example. Our kids are watching us.”
The exact number of jobs to be cut is not yet known. Interim Superintendent Dennis Anderson and Thompkins said after the meeting they are reviewing how much can be saved through attrition, by not replacing people who resign or retire. But they still anticipate there will be layoffs from both the teaching and support staff. Final numbers will be available at the May 9 meeting.
The school board approved a $76.2 million operating budget and $88.9 million total budget that is almost $5 million less than this year’s $93.9 million total budget.
Last year the district had more than $5 million in surplus to balance this year’s budget. But this year there is only $1.4 million available in surplus.
Thompkins said charter school tuition and tuition for students attending the Atlantic County Institute of Technology will cost $7.4 million, or almost 8.5 percent of the budget.
He said the district is committed to continuing programs for the children, including the Freshman Academy, after-school tutoring and dual credit agreements with Stockton University and Atlantic Cape Community College.
The district gets almost all its funding from state and federal aid. But state aid is flat, and federal may decrease.
The local tax levy will increase almost 4.5 percent, from almost $8.5 million to almost $8.9 million. School districts have a 2 percent cap on increasing the property-tax levy but can “bank” unused cap for up to three years. The district is using its entire banked cap for next year’s budget.
The local property-tax levy would rise from $1.07 per hundred dollars of assessed property value to $1.23 per hundred based on the new ratable base, which is estimated to drop almost $87 million.
A person with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay about $1,230 per year in school taxes, up from $1,007.
The school board unanimously approved the budget. Board member Richard Norris was absent. Board President Carla Thomas said Norris had not completed all the requirements for new school board members.