Preliminary Budget Puts Freehold Borough BOE 'Between Rock and Hard Place’

Before state-aid figures, Freehold Borough Schools are $565,765 over the cap. The board is asking for public to weigh in at the next meeting about whether they would rather have larger classrooms or see an increase in taxes.

The Freehold Borough Board of Education (BOE) will have to decide between increasing classroom size or increasing taxes after hearing a presentation on the preliminary 2013-2014 school year budget. 

At Monday night’s BOE meeting, Jim Strimple, interim business administrator for the school district, walked the board through the projected appropriations and revenues for the 2013-2014 school year. The projected numbers did not include state aid numbers. Those numbers will be available later in February.

“The governor is not giving his budget address until Tuesday, Feb. 26,” said Strimple. “Two days later we will find out what our state aid will be in 2013-2014.”

According to Strimple, the projected revenues for borough schools are $19,075,426, while the projected appropriations are $19,641,191, resulting in a possible shortfall of $565,765.

“We are out of balance,” said Strimple. “Our base budget is larger than our estimated projected revenues by $565,765. That’s not good. If this board chooses to live within its two-percent cap we are going to have to cut $565,765 out of the budget right now. Or, we have to find some other form of revenue and I don’t know where you are going to find that.”

The next slide in Strimple’s presentation described items that were not included in the budget. These items staff requested but that are not definitely coming to the district. These items include a multiple disabilities teacher, resource room teacher, fourth grade teacher, health benefits, and renovations for additional classroom space, to name a few. Those items, in addition to the already projected appropriations that were included in the budget make Freehold Borough Schools $1,121,265 over their cap. 

Strimple further explained that there is a two-percent cap limit placed on the growth in the local tax levy by the government, but there is no cap on the budget.

“Some people think there is a cap on your budget, actually, there is no cap on the budget. You can grow the budget by 10, 15, 20-percent if you have revenues. The cap is on your tax levy of the local residents,” explained Strimple.

After the presentation, Strimple asked the board for some guidance regarding the preliminary budget and growth in tax levy.

“We are stuck between a rock and a hard place obviously,” said BOE Vice President Dr. Michael Licahrdi.

The BOE ended the meeting with the decision to talk again after state aid numbers come out and asked Strimple to look at what an increase in the budget cap would mean for residents.

“We need participation from the public to find out if they would rather have 40 kids in a classroom or have taxes go up,” said BOE member Jim Keelan.

The BOE is scheduled to meet again on Monday, Feb. 25 to further look at the 2013-2014 budget. The public’s input is welcomed at this meeting. Currently, the BOE is scheduled to adopt the tentative budget at a special BOE meeting on Monday, March 4.

Richard February 13, 2013 at 08:14 PM
I was wondering the same thing. Kind of curious of what they actually meant by that.
gary corliss February 14, 2013 at 01:06 PM
40 students in a class room, doesn’t the state have regulations for the space per student?? Have there been any discussions with Freehold Township, Howell Marlboro for taking maybe some 2nd, 3rd or 4th grade students??? And at what cost?? Why now at budget time now that the Bus Adm and Superintendent are leaving or retiring do we have a problem for over spending, where have the BusAdm and Superintendent been throughout the year? Why weren’t the cost addressed sooner? A few months ago there was an article in the Freehold Transcript stating Freehold Boro is against the curve, as our students are increasing rather than decreasing? So has anyone in charge made a trip to our legislative representatives? Has anyone made a trip to the Department of Education in Trenton? Has anyone used their “contacts” to either ask for assistance, suggestions??? What line items in the budget are the problem? Where have the problems been, all of a sudden we are receiving a new “Super” and now a major problem jumps out of the closet? Why not bring the Governor to a Town Meeting during the school session to let him see firsthand what our problem is? Gary
Len Fersko February 14, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Jane I know if you do not allow illegals to attend school there will be plenty of room if not less operational schools. The reason there is a short fall in the budget because Monmouth county had homes revalued I know that my development revalue is 60 k less if this is the case all around that explains the short fall for the 2013 year. However if property has been of less value it has been for the last 5 years so they been overcharging for taxes for the last 5 years they knew but did nothing to keep it in reserve they spent it which is the character of politicians because it is not there money.
Bob February 14, 2013 at 05:16 PM
By raising the classroom sizes to 40 will only bring on more problems as the time goes on. How can you expect 1 person to teach 40 students at the same time and give extra help to them who request it? If that happens, a teacher will only go to work each day to do his/her job and not care about the students anymore because he/she is not getting paid enough as it is. Why not get rid of the students who are not legal and refuse education to them along with medical needs to save money everywhere? They get everything for FREE and are laughing at us for paying their way while they even get a free cell phone I bet! Another suggestion is to remove the illegal students and if they have to go to school, send them to another school in the district. From what I understand..Freehold Boro HS is the one with most students and over crowded while Colts Neck HS only is 1/2 full from what I understand. Spread the kids to all schools so all 6 High Schools are equal
Jane Healton February 15, 2013 at 10:55 AM
It is obvious to me in reading the comments that the question isn't where were the school administrators were but where were these concerned citizens back then? If they had any understanding of the schools they would know the budget crises is not a sudden thing nor would they be deciding that it has to be "illegal" children. The influx is immigrants' children, who mostly have been born here in the town. Either way the school cannot ask status, they can only demand proof of residency and a birth certificate. Proof of residency is a bill or lease, not a document from the INS. There is no list of "all those illegal children" that we can send elsewhere. The majority of the children are US citizens. The law requires that the BOE provide them with an education. The law makes many requirements and they will be filled somehow. You used try to deny it all by voting against the school budget. The law's requirements over-road that, the schools would have a budget anyway. The squeeze is real and there are no simple answers. Stop name-calling the children, who anyway are pawns to all the adults.


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