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BOE Approves 2019-20 School Budget

The Manchester Township Board of Education approved the 2019-20 school district budget at a special meeting on May 2, 2019. The total general fund budget is $54,682,964, the general fund local tax levy is $46,167,969 and debt service local tax levy is $2,746,129. Business Administrator Craig Lorentzen said that the annual local tax impact would be an increase of $15.91 per $100,000 of assessed home value, or $25.72 for the average township home assessment of $161,100.

Lorentzen and Superintendent of Schools, David Trethaway, gave a presentation that explained the budget.

The budget maintains existing programs, services and activities, Trethaway stated. He said that due to declining enrollment there would be a slight reduction of staff, with plans to accomplish this through attrition or non-renewals if possible. The budget also includes funding for curriculum revisions, professional development opportunities, new textbooks, a new math program for elementary, new and replacement classroom technology, and new courses at the high school and a new requirement for financial literacy at the middle school. There will also be security upgrades, including a new security position at the middle school.

Lorentzen said that local taxes fund 83% of the budget because the district receives only 9.8% from the state, 2.1% from federal sources, and 5.1% from other sources, mainly tuition from Lakehurst students attending Manchester High School. He said that state aid decreased by $32,569 this year, which was thankfully less than they had anticipated due to changes made to the funding formula. He pointed out that Manchester's 2019-20 state aid amount is now $1.2 million below what it was in 2010-11. The majority of the budget represents fixed costs, he remarked, and the district struggles every year to maintain and improve programs for students while also considering the impact on taxpayers and remaining under the 2% tax cap. The district does not have many opportunities to generate additional revenue, so they focus on savings through purchasing co-ops, transportation jointures, joint services with the township, energy saving programs, in-house maintenance services, and more. He said that the PTA, the Manchester Township Educational Foundation, Donors Choose and school-based fundraisers provide many 'extras' that are not possible in the regular budget.

"Throughout the budget process, we do our best to be responsible to the taxpayers while providing a safe environment in our schools and a quality education for our students," Trethaway remarked.

For more details on the budget, see the full presentation and user-friendly budget document on the Board of Education page.