School Board Approves $33.4M Budget, Tax Cut
Confirming cost-cutting figures presented at its Feb. 27 meeting, the Collingswood Board of Education's upcoming budget will save the average household $34 this year.
Fully funding every position currently held in the district and creating a couple new ones—for a part-time music teacher and school psychologist—the Collingswood School District approved its $33.4 million 2012-13 budget Monday.
As reported in February, that figure includes $13.9 million in local tax levies, the state minimum amount determined for the borough. Because Collingswood is not over the state-mandated 2 percent budget cap, no public referendum is necessary to approve the budget.
Collingswood will levy school taxes for the 2012-13 at a rate of $1.291 per $100 of assessed property value, 0.119 cents of which will go to debt service. A homeowner with a property assessed at $232,500, the borough average, will pay $3,001 in school taxes next year, a $34 per household savings compared to this year.
Enrollment for the 2012-13 year is expected to increase by nine students, although tuition appropriations will fall from $1.07 million in 2011-12 to $780,810. The per-pupil cost in 2012-13 is budgeted for $15,254, a projected increase of $479 per student, but those figures are only preliminary and are likely to decrease somewhat, said Superintendent Scott Oswald.
The budget also drives efficiencies through cost savings, such as a school alliance insurance fund and cooperative purchasing agreements for health insurance and energy.
“We went through a terrible time a few years ago where we really had to make some significant cuts to our budget and our staff,” Oswald said. “We are trying to provide all the services that we can while stabilizing taxes; in this case, reducing taxes.”
In fact, Oswald said, of all the services and programs that were preserved in the budget, the one that has been the topic of most discussion was the safety patrol program, in which fifth- and sixth-grade students used to be posted at street corners before and after school as crossing guards for their classmates.
According to Oswald, that program was eliminated more than two years ago, and principals at every elementary school in the district have established alternative leadership opportunities for their students in the time since.
“Some have established a school store, some do a partnership with pre-K or kindergarten programs, some [allow their students to] do [public address] announcements,” he said.
“Not every school does the same thing, but if you ask the principals at the schools, they have something.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated March 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm to reflect information about the budget passing without a public vote.