Board Adopts School Budget with 0.85% Tax Increase
The Fair Lawn Board of Education Thursday unanimously passed an $88.3 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year that includes a smaller tax increase than in recent years.
The Fair Lawn Board of Education unanimously approved an $88.3 million budget Thursday that superintendent Bruce Watson said contains the lowest-ever tax increase in district history.
Cost savings from last year's custodial privatization, switch to the State Health Benefits Program for employees and receipt of unanticipated additional state aid freed up the board to increase expenditures by more than $2 million while upping taxes only 0.85 percent, or $73.88 on the average assessed homeowner, Watson said.
Far from being a one-year gimmick, Watson stressed that the district's finances are in order for the foreseeable future.
"Fair Lawn is financially positioned as probably one of the best districts in at least Bergen County," he said. "Everything we have this year, we'll have next year, plus a little more."
The 2013-2014 district budget adds 11 staff positions, introduces a supplemental "full-day" kindergarten program for academically-lagging youngsters and includes the construction of a turf field at the high school's Sasso complex. It does not call for further custodial privatization.
The district has budgeted $811,000 for the 11 new staff hires, which include mental health, media and technology specialists, special education staffers, Spanish, science and ESL teachers, and two full-time elementary teachers to staff the new supplemental kindergarten program.
Another $31,000 is budgeted for lunch aides, bus drivers and bus aides who will have their work hours increased with the implementation of the district's new kindergarten program, which adds two hours and fifteen minutes of instruction for kindergarteners identified by the district as in need of basic skills development.
The district's final major budget add, turfing Sasso Field, is projected to cost $650,000 and will be funded through years of accumulated contributions made to the district's capital reserve fund.
Other more minor capital improvement projects in this year's budget include replacing fire doors at Warren Point Elementary, changing out windows at Edison School and Westmoreland Elementary, and re-paving portions of two district parking lots for a total of $243,000.