Budget with 2-percent tax increase presented at Bloomfield BOE meeting

Bloomfield School District Superintendent Sal Goncalves and Assistant Superintendent Joe Fleres present the 2021-2022 budget at the March 16 Board of Education meeting.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield School District administration presented the 2021-2022 budget at the March 16 Board of Education meeting, beginning the process of putting the $129,013,219 budget in place. The tax levy will increase by 2 percent, bringing in an extra $1,504,683 and raising taxes by $26.79 per month for residents.

“I know that’s frightening, to hear an increase,” Superintendent Sal Goncalves said at the meeting. “But I think with what goes along with that increase — that is so vital for our educational community — I think you’ll be pleased.”

The budget includes $6,164,131 in increases. HVAC and window replacement will cost the district $2,300,000; the rest of the $3.6 million cost will be paid by a federal grant. Contractual increases are the second highest valued line item, at $1,439,000. Employee benefits will increase by $1,316,723. Another increase, for summer programs for pandemic-related unfinished learning, will cost $370,000. Special education tuition and support services will cost $344,808 more than last year. New positions will cost the district $227,600 in increases.

Bloomfield will receive $4,245,077 in total federal funding; $3,946,792 is from the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. For learning acceleration, the district will receive $$253,285, and it will get $45,000 for mental health support and services.

There will be an 11.41-percent increase in state aid compared to 2020-2021, with Bloomfield receiving $35,612,054 from the state government. It is an increase of $4,124,915.

“These are difficult times. I don’t need to tell you that,” Goncalves said. “We are thrilled about getting this money that we so desperately need in our educational community. For many, many years, we did not get it. We’re so pleased that this is happening.”

According to Goncalves, the tax increase is still necessary despite the state aid because of the increases. The summer programs will be free for students to attend; the district will also be paying for this year’s Summer Arts Workshop.

“Before, students had scholarships or needed to pay,” Goncalves said. “The Bloomfield Board of Education will be paying for Summer Arts this year. These are summer programs to help our students move forward.”

Two capital projects are included in the budget: boiler replacements at Brookdale Elementary School and a roof replacement at Oak View Elementary School. The boilers will cost $1,200,000 and the roof will cost $2,000,000. The district will be purchasing a new backhoe loader for the maintenance department, new interactive presentation boards and will make lease payments to replace two 54-passenger buses.

“We’re using all the money that we have available to us to make things happen for this school district,” Goncalves said. “What you see is boiler replacements at Brookdale, which brings us to nearly completing all the boilers at our schools. The roof replacement at Oak View will complete all the roofs in the community.”

An elementary school English language arts interventionist is one of the new positions included in the budget. An elementary school special education teacher will be hired as well, in addition to one custodian each at Brookdale and Franklin Elementary School.

“The interventionist teachers will work with regular education at-risk students in English language arts,” Assistant Superintendent Joe Fleres said at the meeting. “This position would allow Brookdale and Oak View to each have a full time ELA interventionist.”

There will also be new curricula: At Bloomfield Middle School, music technology 2 will be introduced; music history and music appreciation are new classes at Bloomfield High School. Other changes will be made to enhance the math, computer science and history classes.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at the BOE meeting on April 27.