BERKELEY – The Central Regional school district budget is up slightly from last year, but three of the five towns will see little to no increase in their school tax bill, the district administrator said.
“I am happy to report that Berkeley and Ocean Gate are seeing little to no increase and Island Heights is seeing a healthy decrease,” business Administrator Kevin O’Shea said. “In addition Seaside Heights is seeing a modest increase. Unfortunately, however the Central Regional funding formula was very rough on Seaside Park.”
The Seaside Park increase is a result of the ratio of students in grades 7 through 12 increasing “dramatically” over the past year, due to a large graduating class and some homeless students leaving the borough, O’Shea said.
Central Regional draws students from five municipalities – Berkeley Township, Ocean Gate, Island Heights, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. The $40,873,730 budget is up by $107,715.
Seaside Park, where the average home is assessed $554,195, will see the tax rate rise to 0.493, from 0.374 for each $100 of assessed valuation. That translates into an annual increase of $659.49, or $54.96 per month.
Berkeley Township, where the average home is assessed at $201,200, will see the tax rate rise slightly to 0.467 from 0.466 for each $100 of assessed valuation. The annual increase for the average home will total $2.01. The average home will pay $939.60 in Central Regional taxes for the 2019-2200 school year.
Ocean Gate, where the average home is assessed at $202,200, will have a tax rate of 0.435 for each $100 of assessed valuation. Taxpayers will pay a total Central Regional bill of $883.61 during the next school year. That’s a $4.04 annual increase or 0.34 cents monthly.
Island Heights, where the average home is assessed at $407,200, will have a school tax rate of 0.337 for each $100 of assessed valuation. Taxpayers will pay an annual cost of $1,371,93, down $69.21 from last year.
Seaside Heights, where the average home is assessed at $226,300, will have a school tax rate of 0.429 for each $100 of assessed valuation. That translates into an annual increase of $27.16.
Central Regional also plans to hire 10 additional teachers for the 2019-2000 school year, to cope with the increasing enrollment and the introduction of block scheduling in both the middle and high schools, O’Shea said.
“The block schedule will be an invaluable tool for us to prepare the students for a schedule that more closely resembles college and will eliminate unnecessary hallway passing times,” he said.
Central Regional could be debt free by July 2021, O’Shea said.
State aid will increase overall by $120,297, but the school choice aid will be reduced by $107,325, he said.
Nevertheless, Central will not lose massive amounts of state aid like other districts. Central Regional’s enrollment has increased by 247 students over the past three years and another 100 students are expected for the next school year, O’Shea said.
“We are happy to announce though that we will not be losing aid due to the “S2 Law” which is causing so many problems in other districts,” he said.
S2 impacted districts like Toms River, Brick and Manchester who were losing enrollment. They lost state aid because of it.
The district plans to spend $440,000 towards new computers, cameras, and WiFi enhancements. The lockers in the middle and high schools will be upgraded because of wear and tear and the enrollment increases, O’Shea said.
The district also plans to buy new middle school science books and will establish a boys lacrosse team for next year.
“We are proud to be adding programs and adding staff for next year, in sharp contrast to other districts in Ocean County,” O’Shea said. “The Central Regional Board is proud to discuss our budget for next year and welcomes any feedback.”
Berkeley Township residents also have to pay school taxes for the Berkeley Township school district and municipal taxes from Berkeley.