Preliminary School Budget Contains District's 'Lowest Tax Increase Ever'
The Fair Lawn Board of Education Thursday unanimously passed an $88.3 million preliminary budget for the 2013-2014 school year.
As a result of cost-savings from the district's custodial privatization and switch to the State Health Benefits Program for employees last year, Fair Lawn schools superintendent Bruce Watson said the district's 2013-2014 budget paints the rosiest tax picture residents will have ever seen.
The Fair Lawn Board of Education unanimously passed an $88.3 million 2013-2014 preliminary budget Thursday that raises annual taxes $73.92 on the average assessed homeowner -- a 0.85 percent increase that Watson claimed was "the lowest it's ever been in the history of Fair Lawn schools."
The proposed budget, which is scheduled for official adoption on March 21, adds approximately 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.
There were no cuts or custodial privatization efforts included in Watson's preliminary budget presentation.
The district has budgeted $655,000 for the new hires, who include mental health specialists, special education staffers and ESL teachers for the district's growing foreign language population.
Another $146,000 will go to hire two full-time teachers to staff the new supplemental kindergarten program that 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.
Watson assured board members and residents that federal sequestration spending cuts would not pose a problem to the district's bottom line.
"We feel very comfortable with whatever happens [in Congress] we’re going to be able to handle that cut," Watson said, noting that the district could lose as much as $140,000 in federal aid due to sequestration.