Egg Harbor Township schools

Parents surround the children as they board the school busses headed to the Swift and Slaybaugh Schools.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The Board of Education adopted its 2017-18 school year budget Tuesday night by a vote of 7-2, with members Justin Riggs and Barbara Szilagyi dissenting.

The approved budget raises the school tax rate by 6 cents to $2.01 per $100 of assessed property value. It increases the school tax bill on the average township home assessed at $208,000 by $128 per year to $4,180.

The budget is $133.3 million, including $124.6 million for general expenditures such as materials, programming and staff costs. Debt-service payments are anticipated to be $8.8 million. The budget is within the 2 percent cap on tax-levy increases imposed by the state.

The proposed local tax levy will be $76.3 million. State aid is flat from the previous year at $40.7 million.

As part of its plan to handle a $6 million budget deficit, the administration decided to lay off two high school teachers, which interim Superintendent Fred Nickles said was based on decreased enrollment in particular classes at the school.

Six paraprofessionals will also be terminated. The details on which positions or staff members were being eliminated were not available because those employees had not been informed.

During the budget process, Nickles had said there was a possibility of reducing staffing levels by 40 positions, but the administration avoided that by reassigning staff and not filling openings created by retirements.

Earlier in April, the board approved a resolution authorizing the district to leave the New Jersey State Health Benefits Program/School Employees’ Health Benefits Program and to enter into a direct program with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. According to Anaya, the shift will save the district $2.2 million over two years. Benefits will remain the same, if not better, as those the district’s 1,014 employees currently have, Anaya said.

The budget preserves funding for all freshman and middle school sports and allocates money for the purchase of a reading curriculum for kindergarten through second grade.

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