does that money go?
The budget is determined to
cover the anticipated costs for the year and include two areas:
discretionary spending (such as textbooks, supplies, computers,
technology, clubs, sports, field trips, repairing the buildings,
and professional development of staff) and non-discretionary spending
(such as salaries/benefits, tuition, transportation, utilities,
insurance, special education mandated costs, and mandated programs).
Non-discretionary spending, also known as fixed costs or fixed overhead,
are those costs over which we have little control yet are required
to be paid just to open the school house doors. This spending makes
up 94% of this school year’s budget and consistently makes
up over 90% of the budget every year. The remaining 5% discretionary
spending allows us to pay for everything else we want to provide
for the children.
I have a say in developing the budget?
You have the ultimate say in
the budget by your vote in the April school elections. There you
will vote on the annual budget and the slate of candidates for the Board of Education.
But before that time there are many opportunities to have input. With the budget
development process beginning in October each year, there are opportunities to
talk with building principals about what you feel is needed in the schools, work
through the PTOs to make your feelings known, and contact board of education
members to offer them input on issues of importance to you. The
public meetings begin in January where you can offer input into the budget.
is the budget development process?
The budget process actually
begins the middle of October annually for the next school year
with the Board of Education Finance Committee creating the general guidelines
and the budget development calendar. The initial budget development takes place
through December with input from all employees based on the enrollment and needs
for the next school year. Public meetings for input to the budget begin in January
and state aid information is typically received the end of February allowing
us to present a tentative school budget for the next school year to the board
of education at their last meeting in February. After board review, input, and
approval, the proposed budget is submitted to the County office of the State
Department of Education the first week of March and all community presentations
on the budget begin. The public hearing on the budget takes place officially
at an open public board meeting the last week of March annually. The final budget
goes to the voters in the community the third Tuesday in April each year.
The district administration
acknowledges the commitment on the part of local parent groups,
such as the PTOs, and community groups, such as the Taxpayers Association and
Senior Citizens, for taking the time to analyze and discuss the proposed budget.
is most challenging about developing the annual budget?
The development of this budget
was particularly challenging to the administration and board of
education members because salary, employee benefits, transportation,
and special education expenses rose but State Aid continues to
be flat or frozen. Fiscal responsibility is the mission of the
business office, meaning that we must supply the needs of the school
district at a responsible cost to the citizens of the community
regardless of state aid.
do I know that the money was spent appropriately?
Each year each school district
in the state is required to employ a certified public accountant
to conduct an independent audit of the district’s accounting
practices and procedures. This is referred to as the CAFR (Comprehensive
Annual Financial Report). In the fall of each year, the accountants
who complete the audit make a presentation at an open public meeting
of the board of education to present their management report on
their findings. The State Department of Education’s Division
of Finance reviews this audit annually.
are some of the ways the district tries to cut costs?
The business office as well
as the Board of Education’s Finance Committee is continually
searching for ways to hold the line on expenses and maximize the
revenue we receive related to non-discretionary spending (fixed
costs). Some cost cutting methods employed by the district include:
services with the town for field maintenance and snow plowing
bulk bidding for general, custodial, art, and physical education
supplies with other Morris County school districts
transportation routes with surrounding school districts
bulk bidding for energy rates with other New Jersey school districts
pursuit of grants related to telecommunications and construction
92 Ryerson Road
Lincoln Park, New Jersey