$161.1M Brick Schools' Tentative Budget For 2023-24 Introduced

March 20, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

BRICK, NJ — The Brick Township Board of Education has approved a tentative budget of $161.1 million for the 2023-24 school year that would increase the property tax levy 1.77 percent, district officials said.

Details of what is in the budget and what might be cut will be presented at the board’s April 27 meeting, where the budget will be up for final approval by the board to be submitted to the state Department of Education.

The tentative budget is $161,141,287, including debt service, and $120,466,734 is to be raised by property taxes. The overall number includes the general fund, as well as special revenues and debt service.

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The district’s general fund — the part that pays for the majority of the operation of the district — is $147,075,262, with a tax levy of $120,332,599. The general fund tax levy is up 2 percent, as required by S2, the state law that also is cutting state funding to Brick Township, but the overall tax levy increase is less than 2 percent because the debt service has decreased.

The district is paying off a bond, business administrator James Edwards said; the district has not bonded for any new projects in more than 10 years.

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The special revenue of $13,862,787 is state and federal grant funding for specific projects.

The tentative budget was approved while negotiations were underway among state legislators to address cuts in school funding to more than 150 districts. That $102 million deal, which is anticipated to be finalized Monday, is set to reduce state aid cuts by 65 percent for each district set for an aid reduction.

Under Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2023-24 budget, the Brick school district was set for a $2,542,260 reduction in state funding compared with what it received in 2022-23. The deal announced by state Sen. Vin Gopal would reduce that to $889,791.

Brick Superintendent Thomas Farrell had said the district was facing significant job cuts under the $2.5 million aid reduction. Whatever cuts may be in the works would be reduced if Gopal’s deal is finalized.

Brick, which is $23 million under adequacy, is not able to raise taxes to close the gap because of the state law that limits tax levy increases to 2 percent per year. It also is well under what the state Department of Education says is the district’s “local fair share,” which is what the state says is the amount Brick Township should be raising in property taxes to support the district’s schools.

Farrell said the limitations create a perfect financial storm for districts like Brick.

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