Lakewood, NJ – The township Board of Education, after a contentious meeting Monday night, passed a school budget that would reduce the school tax levy by more than 1.2 percent.
The meeting ended about 11:30 p.m., with eight of the nine members voting in favor of the budget. The approved budget of $99.3 million was reduced from a proposed $100.1 million budget.
A tax levy of $70.3 million will be presented to the voters April 27.
Under the budget, the school tax on a home assessed at the township average of $400,000 would drop about $185 per year.
Board member Abraham Ostreicher cast the sole dissenting vote.
On Monday night, the board made a last-minute reduction that cut in half $750,000 budgeted for roof repairs to Lakewood Middle School.
In last year’s school board election, the initial 2010-11 tax levy of $79 million was defeated by voters then trimmed by the Township Committee to include a 0 percent increase.
The middle school roof was the subject of three bids that varied by more than $1 million.
The budget reduces the tax levy from the previous year, does not reduce educational programs and has no staff reductions, Superintendent Lydia R. Silva said.
The student population is about 5,500, Silva said.
The cuts proposed by Silva came in areas where the money from last year was not used, she said.
For example, about $1.5 million in special education associated costs was taken out of this year’s budget because it was not used, Silva said. The district owed less in debt service, and an increase in tax revenue and a grant helped reduce the tax levy, officials said.
Ostreicher criticized Silva’s cuts.
“I was clearly told by the board to reduce the budget,” Silva said. “Everybody got hit. We need five times what is budgeted, but I had to make some budget cuts.”