Jackson BOE Readies For Budget Season

Similar to last year, the Jackson school board will host a series of budget workshops and a budget hearing in meetings held at the administration building and Jackson Memorial High School. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

JACKSON – The Jackson Township Board of Education wants public input into its 2017-18 school budget.

Board meetings are already poorly attended, so much so that with few exceptions, the board has chosen to meet almost exclusively in its small public meeting room in the administration building rather than the Jackson Memorial High School Fine Arts auditorium this year.

(Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

Board members said many years, no one has showed up during budget workshops to ask about the budget process or make suggestions. A few will show up when the budget is being voted on, and ask why a particular decision was made.

The better time to ask, said board president Barbara Fiero, is during the workshops.

On February 14 at 5:30 p.m., the first budget workshop will include presentations from special education, curriculum, technology and guidance.

On March 14 at 5:30 p.m., the second budget workshop will have presentations from co-curricular, athletics, guidance, facilities and transportation. A tentative budget will be introduced that night.

Both of those meeting will take place at the administration building, 151 Don Connor Blvd.

The board will hold a budget public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on April 25 at Jackson Memorial High School.

The various departments will make their budget requests at the workshop meetings, where the board and administration will make suggestions for possible cuts and additions before sending a proposed budget to the county superintendent in mid-March.

Last year’s budget was $148,091,148, which was an increase $585,177 from the previous year’s approved budget. The district received an increase in state aid of $184,750, for a total of $50,635,886.

That budget included curriculum updates such as new elementary math textbooks and teaching materials, new textbooks, equipment, and lab furniture and other equipment for select science classes, and 21 sets of Chromebook carts for science teachers in grades 6-12. The school purchased four Epson LCD projectors with interactive white boards.

The average homeowner in Jackson saw an increase of $71 in their school tax bill last year. The general fund tax levy was $79,273,729. The total tax levy, inclusive of the debt service tax levy, increased the school tax levy 1.01 percent.

The state imposed a 2 percent cap on tax increases in 2010.

The district has a web page dedicated to budget updates. That page can be found at jacks.schoolwires.net/Page/9801.

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Ocean County native Jennifer Peacock is a community journalist and photographer. She’s written for weekly and daily newspapers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia for more than 20 years. Readers can contact her at jpeacock@jerseyshoreonline.com.