The Lakewood, NJ, township schools will lay off 39 district employees under a $138 million budget approved by the Board of Education yesterday. The budget carries a $72.4 million tax levy. It is expected to pay for such technology infrastructure improvements as broadband cable and new telephones as well as boost tuition funding by more than 26 percent, school officials said.
The tax levy would raise the tax rate 4 percent, or 3.4 cents per $100 of assessed property value. The owner of a house valued at $350,000 would pay $119 more in school tax. Voters will decide on the budget’s tax levy April 21.
The layoffs for next school year are expected to affect elementary, foreign language and special education teachers, administrators said. They are not expected to involve core departments such as literacy or math, Assistant Superintendent William Andersen said.
Superintendent Eugenia Lawson said the reductions would not hurt the district’s efforts to meet state standards.
“We had to look at cost-saving measures,” Lawson said. “We had to give a budget that the county would approve.”
Starting the public hearing an hour late, the six board members voted unanimously in favor of the budget. District Business Administrator Robert Finger said additional federal stimulus money – expected to be about $8 million – has prevented a higher tax rate increase, despite a leveling out in state aid at $27 million, about the same as last year.
The $100.4 million in appropriations will dole out $16.44 million for out-of-district tuition, about $3.4 million more than last year.
The budget will spend more on attendance, social work, operations and maintenance while spending less on instruction, health services, employee benefits and the general administration.
Still, instruction, which will get $29 million, remains by far the biggest beneficiary of the budget.
The total cost per pupil will drop slightly and remain below the state’s 2008-09 average.
Overall, spending is expected to jump by $3.4 million from last year, or 3.5 percent.
Administrators said they also are looking to phase out German as a foreign language to put more focus on languages most used in the township, such as Spanish.