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School Board Approves Tentative Budget Free of Special Question

With adjustments for enrollment and health care, district presents 3.1% increase.

A tentative school budget with no special question attached was approved by the Board of Education Monday night.

Board members previously thought that state aid for the district might be cut completely, or at least go down from the $408,719 awarded last year.

Instead, for a total of $925,725 in state aid, plus an enrollment adjustment of $568,238, and a health benefits adjustment of $296,129.

All together, officials said the district will be able to present a 3.1 percent overall increase (including the tax levy, enrollment adjustment and health benefits adjustment) and will have a balanced budget to submit to Morris County Executive Superintendent Kathleen Serafino on Friday.

There will be no special question for voters at the elections on April 27.

Board member Alan Routh said the numbers presented to the board were "pretty accurate" since state aid had come in. Routh, Superintendent Jim O'Neill and interim Board Secretary Kristin Kosky presented the tentative budget to the board and to the public Monday.

The budget includes the growth of 4.9 new positions in Chatham schools, including a math teacher, world language teacher and English teacher for Chatham High School; an English teacher and basic skills teacher for Chatham Middle School; a full-time librarian for Milton Avenue School (Milton Avenue currently shares a librarian with Washington Avenue); and a behaviorist for the district.

Three positions will be eliminated under the new budget, including one first grade teacher at Southern Boulevard School to accommodate changes in the district's student population and dispersal throughout the different grades and schools.

The activities fee at Chatham High School will also be reduced from $150 to $100 per student.

The increase from the 2010-11 school year to the 2011-12 school year is $1,835,203, or 3.1 percent overall. The total operating budget of the district, according to a presentation made to the Board of Education on Monday, will be $60,349,044.

Based on an average home assessed at $700,000, borough residents will see an increase of $81 next year. Residents of Chatham Township living in a home assessed at that amount will see a tax increase in $193.

Another open Budget Advisory Committee meeting will be held on March 22 at 7 p.m., and a public hearing will be held on the budget at the Board of Education meeting on March 28.

April 6 is the last day to register to vote for school elections. Residents who wish to vote using a mail-in ballot, which is available through the Morris County Clerk's office, must send in their requests by April 20. The application can be picked up in person until April 26 at 3 p.m.

School elections will be April 27 from 2 until 9 p.m. at Chatham Middle School's upper gymnasium for borough residents and at Gymnasium C at Chatham High School for township residents.

One spot is open on the Board of Education for a borough representative. Another township spot may also become available. Anyone wishing to run for the Board of Education can pick up a packet from the district office in the .

Ron Swanson March 01, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Keeping taxes flat should be the priority of this Board, but as I feared, instead of using the surprise increase in state aid to hold the line on taxes, they have chosen to spend it and increase taxes anyway. It's up to the public to show up on March 22 and March 28 to speak up about this.
L22 March 01, 2011 at 09:54 PM
Agreed. It is ridiculous. How about NO increase, and start from there? Last year, we were supposed to be thankful that the increase was small. I voted NO last year, and will do the same this year.
ChathamGuy March 01, 2011 at 11:05 PM
I'll be voting NO too.
Captain Jack March 01, 2011 at 11:37 PM
We need a major VOTE NO sign campaign to put up against the stepford vote yes contingent !
softrain March 02, 2011 at 01:19 AM
This BOE is not getting the message that residents need them to do more with less. Last year's budget was 57,830,277 an increase of 2,518,767 thats a 2 1/2 million increase. I will be voting NO and will be making a VOTE NO sign for my yard. Instead ofthe BOE taking no action on O'Neill's retirement I hope they are starting to look for a replacement.


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