School Budget, Roof Repairs Explained
The Midland Park Board of Education presented its proposed 2013-14 budget tonight, plus a second question to fund roof repairs. If the $20 million budget is approved by the voters on April 16, the average home assessed at $392,000 will pay an additional $134.23 for the schools portion of the tax bill.
The second question asks for an additional $955,075 to be used for roof replacements at the three schools. The funds would be raised by taxation during the 2013-14 year. If approved, the average home assessed at $392,000 would pay an additional $352.96 for one year only.
The additional funds would complete the roof replacements at Godwin School and Highland School. At Godwin, the roof over the Bergen County Special Services wing is new, as is the section at the front of the school, which was replaced last summer. At Highland, the area on the side of the new gymnasium was replaced in 2005 as part of the 2003 referendum. The remainder of each school's roof would be replaced using the additional funds.
Proposed roof replacements at Midland Park Junior-Senior High School includes 19,000 square feet of the 100,000 square-foot roof. Portions of the roof were replaced in 2004 (as part of the 2003 referendum), 2011 and 2012, comprising 38,000 square feet. An additional 43,000 square feet will still need to be replaced, at a cost of approximately $800,000.
According to School Board Finance Chair Robert Schiffer, the district's decision to go for the second question as opposed to pursing an additional referendum at this time is based on feedback from the community, suggesting that the board complete projects on a year by year basis. The roof was given first priority because it has the largest impact.
"We can't fix the floors or the walls or anything else unless the roof doesn't leak anymore," Schiffer said. "This plan is to seal the envelope so we can move on to address other issues."
The board chose to ask for less than $1 million and address the remaining roof replacements at another time because it felt $2 million would be too much to ask for over a one-year period.
The second question requires a super majority — 60 percent — of votes to pass. If voters do not support it, the roof repairs cannot be done until 2014-15. The district may not go out for a referendum that includes the roof repairs, nor can it allocate other funds to repair the aging, leaking roofs.
The proposed 2013-14 budget represents a 1.95-percent increase to the tax levy. According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marie Cirasella additional spending includes staffing, programs and facilities. District wide, the board is looking to purchase new Science textbooks and resources for grades K-12 that align with the new Core Curriculum standards and is also hoping to add a technology coordinator to help with implementing the new PARCC Assessments and other state mandated programs that rely on technology. The district also needs to increase funding for professional development for teachers for the new mandated Teacher Evaluation System.
"The state has given us new programs that are mandated, and does not pay for them, so we have no choice but to have to fund them," she noted.
Additional increases in the budget include tech support for K-2, literacy and mathematics coaching for elementary teaching, additional high school courses, including more AP classes and a new Personal Finance class, along with a part-time building aide for security.
Officials noted that only 8 percent of the district's budget is allocated at the board's discretion, while 92 percent of the budget represents fixed costs that the board has no say over.
The election will be held on Tuesday, April 16. Polls will be open from 2 to 9 pm.