Lenape Regional High School District BOE Adopts 2023-2024 Budget
April 26, 2023
On Wednesday, April 26, the Lenape Regional High School District (LRHSD) Board of Education adopted a $174.9 million General Fund budget for the 2023-2024 school year with a decrease of State Aid in the amount of $1,175,078. The budget was adopted amid continuing declines in state aid, increased needs for special education funding and the rising costs of supplies, transportation, cost of living increases and health insurance.
LRHSD Board of Education member David Stow emphasized the board’s commitment to fiscal responsibility to the communities the district serves. According to the New Jersey Department of Education’s Taxpayer’s Guide to Education, the LRHSD continues to rank as one of the best performing school districts in the state with the least number of administrators per faculty member per student, as compared to similar districts. Additionally, the LRHSD spends well below the state-mandated regional limit on administrative costs per pupil.
Mr. Stow noted that there were several one-time only revenue sources that were used to balance the FY24 budget: excess surplus from FY22, anticipated fund balance from FY23, supplemental stabilization aid, stimulus funds and a withdraw from the district’s capital reserve funds.
Among other reductions throughout the budget, Mr. Stow also announced, upon the administration’s recommendation, through eliminations, retirements and resignations, twenty (20) positions will be eliminated to balance the budget. Scheduling efficiency has provided additional cost savings where the district will be sharing teachers between buildings, combining courses of upper levels along with overloads for teachers instead of replacements.
Additional measures employed to balance the budget will be the expansion of the nonresident tuition- based program at Seneca in the 2023-2024 school year. Non-residents may apply to attend Seneca High School for any program. LRHSD also is offering a district-wide nonresident tuition-based Special Education Program available to students who are 19-21 years of age, Project Search. An increase in participation fees for athletics is being explored as well.
State funding to the LRHSD decreased by 4.73 percent, yielding a total of $23.6 million in state funding for the 2023-2024 school year. This reduction is due to a slight decrease in enrollment and the passage of the S-2 school-funding education bill in July 2018, which will result in the total state aid reduction of $7.3 million over seven years with a cumulative loss of $26 million.
The State Funding Formula for Special Education aka “Underfunded Formula” is projected to underfund LRHSD Special Education by over $3.2 million in the 23-24 budget year alone.
According to Superintendent of Schools Carol Birnbohm, Ed. D, state aid at the LRHSD has continued to comprise a lower percentage of the annual budget, declining from nearly 40 percent in the 1994-1995 school year, to just 15.06 percent of next year’s proposed budget. With the legislative changes in state aid, that portion is projected to drop to 14.77 percent in the 2024-2025 school year, placing additional burden on taxpayers in the years ahead.
Though the LRHSD is faced with significantly reduced funding from the state, the district continues to excel as one of the top regional school districts in New Jersey by maximizing various grant opportunities which makes it possible to continue to innovate and provide new programs. One in particular, the Community Project Funding sponsored by Congressman Andy Kim, awarded the district $593,663 to expand the Adult Transition Program to provide more opportunities for meaningful work experience for our special needs young adults.
As one of the highest achieving districts in the state, the LRHSD has shown that innovation, creativity and achievement are integral to its success. With an average graduation rate of 97.2% among its four high schools, the district consistently has students achieving well above state or national averages for Advanced Placement (AP) scores, SAT and other college and career ready benchmarks.
Beyond academic success, LRHSD students excel in the fine and performing arts, marching band, athletics, robotics and community service projects. Birnbohm is grateful to the staff who are dedicated to getting students involved in experiences that enrich them beyond the classroom. “Our staff should be commended for their ability to connect with students, inspire learning and build a school culture which aims to allow all students to feel comfortable, grow and learn.”
Budget information, including tax impacts for each sending district, is posted on the Lenape Regional High School District website, www.lrhsd.org. For more information, contact Business Administrator Kara Huber at 609-268-2000, ext. 556500, or firstname.lastname@example.org