BOE to vote on SOMA schools budget

SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The South Orange-Maplewood School District released the following press release:

“On March 7, 2017, the district’s proposed budget for the 2017-2018 school year was presented to the Board of Education and the community. The proposed budget was updated for the March 13, 2017, community forum, upon receiving information that our increased health costs entitle SOMSD to an additional $466,170 in taxing authority for 2017-2018. The Board of Education’s total taxing authority for 2017-2018 is now $115,902, 956, including the 2-percent local tax levy increase, allowable adjustments of $823,744, and banked cap of $1,118,001. The superintendent is recommending using $115,755,202 of this taxing authority, with an estimated tax impact of 3.56 percent.

“Superintendent John Ramos Sr. explained how the budget is tied to the district’s mission, which sets the direction for our work. He talked about the very painful choices in front of us, since we are constrained on the revenue side by both the 2-percent cap and by underfunding of the state formula of more than $2 million, and on the expense side by increases in health care expenses, rising enrollment and other cost drivers beyond our control.

“Business Administrator Paul Roth explained this year’s ‘zero-based budgeting’ approach, in which every department and building had to justify every dollar they were requesting. This process identified some areas of potential savings, and also identified priorities which have been added to the budget.

“Ramos reviewed his recommendations for additions and reductions, to balance spending with the proposed revenues.

“The following resources provide detailed information on the superintendent’s preliminary budget: PowerPoint of preliminary budget presentation on March 13; video of Community Budget Forum on March 13; and video of Proposed Budget Presentation on March 7.”

The Board of Education will vote to adopt the preliminary budget on Saturday, March 18, at 9:30 .m. at the Montrose Early Childhood Center. The BOE will take this time to discuss the superintendent’s recommendations before voting.

The Board of Education has welcomed and encouraged community input on the budget throughout the process. Community feedback is welcome during the “public speaks” portion of the March 18 special board meeting. In addition, feedback can be sent via Let’s Talk!