The long-awaited 2013 state aid numbers that will determine the scope of school district budgets statewide have been released by the Department of Education, showing Lacey schools will receive $279,480 more in state funding than they did in 2011-12.
"The increase in state aid is obviously good news, but remember, $290,000 dollars represents about a 1.5 percent increase in State Aid, and even combined with the $600,000 increase from last year it still only represents restoration of about a quarter of the $3.2 million cut we experienced in 2010," school board President Jack Martenak said in an email.
After a $4.6 million cut in 2010, all employees of the Lacey Township School district accepted a salary freeze.
The 2010-11 budget was reduced by more than $1 million before going to the voters. The district had to use $1.1 million in free balance savings because the state failed to make the final payment of State Aid for the 2009-10 school year. The school district then suffered another $3.3 million reduction.
"Assembling a budget is always a tough task, and the current climate with regard to state aid as well as state mandates does not make this year any easier," Martenak said.
The board is currently working on the budget, which will include potential savings as well as investments in areas that the board and administration are focusing on improving, he said. But the net results of those savings, investments, other cost increases and changes in state aid have not yet been finalized.
"We will be looking at the limitations of the state aid to certain categories with the administration in an upcoming Finance Committee meeting where we will be working towards assembling a draft budget for presentation to the whole board and the local county office of the State Department of Education next week," Martenak said.
Lacey Township School District’s preliminary budget must be sent to the county by March 5. After it is submitted, the board will continue to "look at options and refine the details" by the public budget meeting on Monday, March 26.
In his budget plan, Gov. Chris Christie announced his plan to increase funding in K-12 formula aid for districts by $135 million in 2013.
“Since taking office, one of my greatest priorities has been working to ensure that every child in the state receives a high quality education that will prepare them for the demands of the 21st century,” said Governor Christie. “In addition to increasing overall spending on education to the highest levels in state history, we can and will go further to implement common sense ways that will make every education dollar count.”
Along with his budget proposal, Christie released the “Education Funding Report,” which outlines his plan to “make every education dollar count” and close the state’s achievement gap. The report can be found here.
“If we truly want to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, graduate from high school ready for college and career, the money needs to follow the child,” Christie said.
Below is the projected state aid for the Lacey Township School District in comparison to 2012:
Total Aid (2010-2011)
Education Adequacy Aid
Special Education Categorical Aid
One Year Change
$279,480 (1.3 percent)
The Board of Education will be holding a special meeting for the submission of the preliminary 2012-2013 budget on Monday, March 5 at 6 p.m. A public budget hearing will also be held on Monday, March 26 at 6 p.m.
Business Administrator Jim Savage and Superintendent Sandra Brower did not return calls for comment. Keep following Lacey Patch for more details and input from local district officials.