4-27-22 Lenape Regional High School District BOE Adopts 2022-2023 Budget

  • April 27, 2022  

    Shamong, New Jersey – On Wednesday, April 27, the Lenape Regional High School District (LRHSD) Board of Education adopted a $166.3 million General Fund budget for the 2022-2023 school year, a 2.00% increase over the previous year with a decrease of State Aid in the amount of $273,557. The budget was adopted amid continuing declines in state aid, increased needs for special education funding and the rising costs 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 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 FY22 budget: excess surplus from FY21, anticipated fund balance from FY22, stimulus funds and a withdraw from capital reserve. 

    LRHSD is launching a nonresident tuition-based program at Seneca in the 2022-2023 school year. Non-residents may choose to attend Seneca in either the ASE Automotive Certification Program, the Air Force JROTC program or the engineering program, Project Lead the Way. 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. 

    Mr. Stow also announced to the board, upon the administration’s recommendation, through eliminations, retirements and resignations, the staffing reductions of seven positions realize a savings of $490,000. 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. 

    State funding to the LRHSD decreased by 1.09 percent, which was a decrease of $273,557 yielding only a total of a little more than $24 million in state funding for the 2022-2023 school year. This reduction is due to 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” has underfunded LRHSD Special Education costs by over $4.2 million. 

    LRHSD also factored in a 3.9 percent increase in the healthcare costs into the 2022-2023 budget. The estimated employee contribution has a deficit of $350,000 due to mandated NJ Educators Plan (Chapter 44). Chapter 44 was passed with the goal of reducing the cost of healthcare for districts and employees, however, the implementation of this mandate is causing districts to lose large sums of money each year. 

    Special Education is expanding options for students 19–21 years of age who have not yet graduated with SOAR (Seneca Occupational & Adult Readiness). The LRHSD will serve an additional 91 special education students for the 2022-2023 school year. To accommodate the increase in special education students, the district must add three interpreters of the deaf positions, eight full time paraprofessionals and efficiently schedule all existing special education teachers. 

    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 16.33 percent of next year’s proposed budget. With the legislative changes in state aid, that portion is projected to drop to 15.05 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 97.4% 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. 

    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 Lenape Regional High School District website, www.lrhsd.org. For more information, contact Business Administrator Connie Stewart at 609-268-2000, ext. 553600, or cstewart@lrhsd.org