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West Orange Board of Education Gets Budget Process Rolling

Cynthia Cumming

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 • 12:17am

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Board of Education began public discussions on the proposed school budget for 2014-2015 at Monday's board meeting.

The meeting opened with Interim Superintendent James O'Neill noting the unusual demographics and composite of the district students.

"Most school districts classify students into low, middle, and high (performing) groupings," he said. "Of course then, the goal is to bring the low to the middle, the middle to the high, and so forth. But West Orange has more than three classifications. It has low, middle, and high; it has a large special needs population, which need to meet 78 state requirements, plus federal requirements; it has a large ESL (English as a second language) population, and a transient population." 

He went on to explain that the transient population was especially unique because students would enter and leave, and then re-enter the district, yet their scores still counted as part of the whole for district state testing.

The Tentative Proposed Budget will be announced on March 18 at a special meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Library Media Center at West Orange High School, 51 Conforti Ave.  A proposed budget is expected to be ready by April 14.

Board Secretary Mark Kenney began review of various line items with the board, who asked questions along the way.  Of particular note was the increase of state aid from $6,809,707 in state aid for 2013-2014 to 6,950,527 for 2014-2015. This is a 2.1% increase over last year for a total of $140,820.

At least $4,191,194 of that aid is for Special Education.
 
As of March 10, it appeared that the district's budget might fall somewhere in the $126 million dollar range.  Kenney said the district would need to look into a "banked cap" to fill the gap on the budget and allow it go over a 2% allowable tax levy cap. A banked cap is the difference between what a 2% increase would be and the actual increase (or no increase) of the district. Further discussions of the banked cap and the amount it represented, plus what the possible tax levy increase over 2%, can be expected at the March 18 meeting.
 
Contact Board President Sandra Mordecai at smordecai@woboe.org, or Board Secretary Mark Kenney at mkenney@woboe.org, with any questions.
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