Manchester Schools Propose $52.9M Budget

Manchester Township High School (Courtesy of the Manchester School District)

MANCHESTER – The Manchester Board of Education approved the district’s tentative 2017 budget, which is now awaiting county approval.

Its final adoption and public hearing is scheduled for April 26 at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Business administrator Craig Lorentzen said the budget is subject to change, not only from the county school superintendent’s office, but the board. The district declined to release the figures showing how the proposed budget will impact taxpayers, because those figures are subject to change.

It is known, from the district’s March 15 agenda, that the 2017 proposed general fund revenue is $52.9 million, with a general fund tax levy of $44 million and a debt service levy of $2.8 million.

  The district also plans to use a banked cap of $350,000 for new computer servers and to replace aging technology. It was unclear at which district offices or schools that would affect.

State aid has been a sore subject in Manchester for nearly a decade, with the district still feeling the effects of cuts back from 2009-10. While state aid remained “flat” again this cycle, that aid is still more than $1 million shy of where it was.

“The primary challenge in putting this budget together was trying to maintain what we have while continuing to advance our efforts in improving instruction, curriculum, staff development, technology, facilities and school security,” Lorentzen said. “When salaries, health benefits, special education out of district tuition, liability insurance and pension costs represent 80 percent of the school budget and many of these areas are increasing well above our two percent tax levy cap, it limits what can be done with the remainder of the budget. We have to find ways to be creative, efficient and utilize the funds we have effectively.

“Our budget is still supported primarily by the taxpayers under the current school funding formula. The district only gets approximately 11 percent in state aid to support its budget. We have to be mindful of that when we are putting the budget together,” he said.

The board also approved the Regional Day School’s tentative budget of $5.9 million, also pending county approval.

Last year’s approved school budget was $55.71 million. The average homeowner whose house was valued at $157,000 saw a $56 increase in their annual school taxes.

Lakehurst Schools

The Lakehurst Board of Education will be holding their public hearing on the district’s 2017-18 budget at 7 p.m. on April 25 at the Lakehurst Elementary School. The district did not respond by press time to a request from The Manchester Times for tentative budget figures.