August 9, 2011 • Vol. XXXV • No. 5
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Survey Results:  Districts Will Use Extra State Aid for Future Property Tax Relief and Programs

How are New Jersey school districts planning to use their share of the $150 million in additional state education aid that was allocated in the state budget that was approved at the end of June?

In an informal survey of School Board Notes readers last week, some school boards were able to use the additional aid for this current year’s programs or services. However, the majority (63.2%) of respondents indicated that the aid, which came after district budgets and local tax rates were finalized, will be used for property tax relief and/or educational programming in future years.  

Another 10.4 percent of respondents said it will be used to restore educational programming in 2011-2012; 7.2 percent indicated it will be used to provide current-year tax relief, while 12.8 percent noted that it will be used toward a combination of the options. 

Selected comments about district use of state aid:
We will restore educational programming/staffing in 2011-2012 and reserve the rest for property tax relief and/or educational programming in future years.

We are providing current year tax relief, to have a zero percent increase. The remainder of the money is going into next year's budget for education programming.

Of $845,000 received in additional state aid, $562,500 will restore educational programming/staffing, and $24,000 will be used for technology to replace computers in a high school lab. An assessment of the activities and cost of a 2011-2012 district goal to infuse/integrate STEM is underway. We expect to give some tax relief in the future.

Due to the short time line provided by the state, our district felt that we had no responsible choice other than to defer the decision until next year. We did not have enough time to gather board members and administrators to discuss and vote on the issue within the (five calendar day?) timeline the state provided.

Restoration of teaching staff in 2011-12; restoration of classroom resources and/or classroom curricula initiatives in 2011-12; and property tax relief in 2012-13.

Reinstate pre-K program from one full day and two half day classes to three full day classes; property tax relief in 2012.

We eliminated the tax levy increase and postponed our plans to implement a pay to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities.

The state aid, in many ways, came too late. With all the publicity, it put pressure on the board of education to restore certain cuts after the budget was defeated. Extra state aid arrived too late for tax relief in the current year since township had already printed their tax bills and it would have cost them money to reprint.

We will save the aid for the 2012-2013 budget to help replace the federal Education Jobs fund money that is in the 2011-2012 budget.

We restored teaching staff for 2011-2012 and rolled over the balance for tax relief in 2012-2013.

The funds will be used to complete facilities projects – a roof replacement is the primary focus, with excess funds earmarked for smaller projects.

We will restore 1.5 registered nurses previously cut, employ 1.5 academic support teachers, support technology infrastructure needs, and restore upper middle school athletic program.

The district budget already provided a tax rate decrease from the previous year. The extra paltry $76,000 will be used for roof repair and other needed items.

The four or five day allotment of time to make a decision was unreasonable. Had the state provided districts with greater notice or an extended deadline, school leaders and board of education members would have had the opportunity to contemplate the most appropriate usage. I believe the most reasonable action was for districts to use the funds in future years. In doing so, higher quality dialogue and planning would take place, enabling them to maximize the use of the funds.



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