Lenape Regional High School District BOE Adopts 2020-2021 Budget
Maintains Regular and Special Education Programs and Staff Despite State Aid Decrease
SHAMONG, NJ - On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, the Lenape Regional High School District (LRHSD) Board of Education adopted a $162.8 million budget for the 2020-2021 school year, a 0.75 percent increase from the current school year, amounting to a $1.2 million increase. The budget was adopted amid continuing declines in state aid, increased needs for special education funding and the rising cost of 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 Taxpayers’ 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 and per student, as compared to similar districts. Additionally, the LRHSD spends well below the state-mandated regional limit on administrative costs per pupil.
Stow also announced the board, upon the administration’s recommendation had to eliminate positions, stipends and un-mandated services in order to cut $2.6 million. The district will continue the consolidation of North/South at Lenape and Cherokee with the reduction of 3.5 certificated support staff members; and will eliminate the warehouse supervisor and treasurer of school money positions.
The LRHSD made several additional reductions that assisted in balancing the budget without affecting programs this year. The district did not purchase textbooks, increased class sizes, and reduced overload teaching/extra-pay assignments and eliminated most substitute teachers.
In the transportation budget, the LRHSD saved by eliminating late runs and courtesy bus routes within 2.5 miles of school which additionally shifts the responsibility of paying crossing guards to the municipalities they serve; consolidating to neighborhood stops, and reducing dispatchers’ pay.
State funding to the LRHSD decreased by 4.23 percent, which was a decrease of $1.156 million yielding only a total of a little more than $26 million in state funding for the 2020-2021 school year. This reduction is due to the passage of the S-2 school-funding modification bill in July 2018, which will result in the total state aid reduction of $7.7 million over seven years.
The LRHSD also factored in a 5.8 percent increase in healthcare costs into the 2020-2021 budget.
The proposed budget adds no new regular or special education programs. However, the LRHSD will serve an additional 77 special education students for the 2020-2021 school year. To accommodate the increase in special education students, the district must add two nurse-paraprofessionals for two students and 18 part-time paraprofessional positions.
In response to the reduction of nearly $8 million in state aid over a seven-year period, the LRHSD joined other school districts to form Support Our Students (SOS), which lobbies and advocates for its member school districts at the state level.
According to Superintendent of Schools Carol Birnbohm, Ed.D., state aid to 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 17 percent of next year’s proposed budget. With the legislative changes in state aid, that portion is projected to drop to 13.5 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 with overwhelming support from its communities.
“Our Board has never ceased to be amazed by the donations that come to us from our communities, our organizations and the businesses that support the Lenape Regional High School District,” said Stow.
“Accepting financial support from our community has helped make it possible for us to bridge the gap to improve athletic facilities, purchase new equipment and support innovative programs to benefit our students,” added Birnbohm.
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 96.4 percent among its four high schools, the district reported that nearly 85.3 percent of the Class of 2019 continued its education across at least 227 four-year and two-year colleges and universities.
According to Birnbohm, LRHSD students’ academic success tells only part of the story. “Our staff and students are regional, state and national award winners and champions,” she said. “They’ve won awards for special education programs, marching band, business, fine arts, robotics, community service and JROTC, not to mention athletics.”
Budget information, including tax impacts for each sending district, is posted on the 2020-2021 Budget Information page. For more information, contact Business Administrator Connie Stewart at 609-268-2000, ext. 5536, or firstname.lastname@example.org.