SPARTA, NJ –The Sparta Board of Education held its annual budget hearing on Thursday. Without comments from the public or board members the $69,514,447 proposed budget was passed unanimously.
The headline from the budget is a decrease in the school tax levy without reduction to staff, programs or services. The budget was created with the maximum 2% increase, but the bond refinance undertaken by interim Business Administrator Ron Smith and the board of education members gave a credit of $417,367, according to board of education finance committee chair Robert Zywicki, lowering the overall impact.
The proposed tax levy is $64,600,967 according to the 2021-2022 User Friendly Budget summary.
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According to the municipal budget presentation from Sparta Township CFO Grant Rome the average assessed home in Sparta is $369,600 down from $369,700. He shared the school budget impact to the Sparta taxpayers:
The tax rate will be 2.161, down from 2.165 last year,
The tax impact on the average assessed home will be $7,985.58 down from $8,004.01 last year.
“This is a good budget that actually lowers taxes for Sparta taxpayers,” Zywicki said reminding the board members last year there was no budget presentation for the public at the budget hearing.
During his representation of the budget Interim Superintendent Patrick McQueeney said “not much has changed” since the budget was first presented to the board of education members and the public in March, though he did give a few additional details.
“We are investing in our staff and their efforts to show they are supported,” McQueeney said.
He said in response to an increase in non-English language speaking students, the budget contained funding for an English Second Language teacher to be “assigned according to need.”
The sidewalk project at Mohawk Avenue School will allow for handicapped accessibility, according to McQueeney. The path from the parking lot to the track at Sparta High School will also be paved, “to make it accessible to all students.”
The cost of health benefits increased by 4.8% according to Zywicki. He said that “will be something we will be looking at this year.”
After the budget was approved an additional expenditure was announced.
In response to board of education member Jen Grana’s report following her in-depth tour of all the school buildings, chair lifts will be repaired in the orchestra pit at Sparta High School and added to the Helen Morgan school “before the start of the next school year,” Zywicki said thanking Grana for bringing the issues to the board members’ attention. Those projects will be paid for from the current 2020-2021 budget.
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