6-5-24 A Message For Our LRHSD Community

  • Dear Lenape Regional High School District Community:

    We asked for advocacy from our school community, and our community delivered. Everyone’s efforts drove bipartisan support for legislation enacted to provide immediate budgetary relief to the Lenape Regional High School District.

    I take great pride in leading our district, full of outstanding staff and with the support of a dedicated Board, navigating the highs and lows and every moment in between. I also understand the importance of being present, clear and public-facing through it all. That is why I am reaching out beyond our school community, to all LRHSD taxpayers, with context for a modified budget our Board and administration will set forth for Department of Education approval.

    The past six years have tested LRHSD as the S2 Bill reshaped New Jersey’s school funding formula, making us repeat losers in the appropriation of State Aid. Although the daunting funding cuts totaled over $10 million, we never lost our resolve and ingenuity to provide our students and community with exceptional schools. 

    But this current budgeting period presented a new set of unexpected challenges.

    As we prepared for the 2024-2025 academic year, we were shocked to learn our State Aid was gutted $4.7 million, more than 14 times the anticipated decrease.

    Given the new legislation, LRHSD will recover 45% of the State Aid we were set to lose ($2.1 million of the $4.7 million). Additionally, the legislation grants a one-time opportunity to increase taxes above the 2% tax levy cap, allowing us to recoup some of the equivalent funds lost due to S2.

    Our administration and Board have reworked the numbers to propose a solution to restore many, though not all, of the necessary and devastating budget cuts planned for the 2024-2025 school year.  It is not feasible to restore everything, nor is it fiscally responsible to do so, in light of enrollment reductions. 

    We determined that a one-time additional 5.7% increase in taxes will make it possible to fulfill our commitment to preserving the quality high school experiences our students deserve and our community expects.  With this, the Board plans to reinstate staff and programs including, but not limited to:

    • Rehiring approximately 65 of 90 non-tenured staff.
    • Restoring non-mandatory special education programs.
    • Eliminating the proposed graduation fee.
    • Maintaining clubs and stipend positions for athletics with a plan to reduce redundancies in a few of our offerings based on student and staff input.  
    • Restoring bowling and gymnastics programs with significant reductions to costs and/or modifications.

    We have worked tirelessly on behalf of our school community, including our taxpayers, to overcome the state’s flawed school funding formula. Examples of this in action are the careful planning that made it possible to propose the tax-neutral bond referendum in 2021, as well as our success securing nearly $16 million in grant funding since 2020.

    We especially take pride in sustaining our reputation as one of New Jersey's top-performing school districts while maintaining a lean administrative structure and spending well below the state's mandated limit on administrative costs per pupil.  

    Despite all this, the administration and Board understand that even the slightest increase in taxes is upsetting, which is why we remain committed to advocacy. We now set our sights on legislation aimed at creating reliable and stable methods for funding education in NJ without being overly reliant on our community’s tax dollars.

    I thank you for your understanding and support.  I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Board, which has remained unified and committed to ensuring LRHSD is a source of pride for this community and a nurturing environment for our community’s future leaders.

    Gratefully, 
    Dr. Carol Birnbohm
    Proud Superintendent of Schools
    Lenape Regional High School District

Updated Proposed General Fund Tax Levy

    • Evesham Township – Tax levy increase of 3.03 cents, resulting in a increase in regional school taxes of $84.30 on a home assessed at the township average of $272,848.
    • Medford Township – Tax levy increase of 5.19 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $183.80 on a home assessed at the township average of $330,888.
    • Medford Lakes Borough - Tax levy increase of 9.60 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $286.48 on a home assessed at the borough average of $289,833.
    • Mt. Laurel Township – Tax levy increase of 5.47 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $134.33 on a home assessed at the township average of $238,700.
    • Shamong Township – Tax levy increase of 11.89 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $376.25 on a home assessed at the township average of $310,641.
    • Southampton Township – Tax levy increase of 8.30 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $124.07 on a home assessed at the township average of $189,066.
    • Tabernacle Township – Tax levy increase of 9.75 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $268.47 on a home assessed at the township average of $274,369.
    • Woodland Township – Tax levy increase of 2.93 cents, resulting in an increase in regional school taxes of $67.08 on a home assessed at the township average of $255,200.