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State Will Set School Budgets for Lenape and Swedesboro-Woolrich

The Lenape Regional High School District

The Lenape Regional High School District

State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler will determine two South Jersey school district budgets that voters rejected and municipal governments failed to resolve.

When rejected by voters, a New Jersey school district’s budget is referred to its municipal government, which can approve or cut the budget. School districts can appeal these budget cuts to the state, but no South Jersey district did so this year. However, in districts that serve more than one municipality, all must agree on the budget.

Schundler will set the Lenape Regional High School District’s budget after Mount Laurel’s municipal council refused to join the district’s seven other municipal councils in approving a spending plan that had been reduced by $1.8 million from the one rejected by voters.

Determined by an apportionment formula based on property values and the number of students sent to the district, Mount Laurel’s proposed Lenape increase, 10.96-cents per $100 of assessed valuation, was more than double the tax hike for other sending municipalities.

The state will also determine the Swedesboro-Woolrich School District budget after municipal officials in neither Swedesboro nor Woolrich acted on it.

Other South Jersey school districts have instituted job cuts, wage freezes, teacher givebacks, school redistricting and other measures in the wake of April budget rejections by voters in 70 of 102 districts. The districts had sought tax increases after New Jersey cut school aid statewide by $475 million this year and $820 million for next year. Here are some of the ways school districts are coping.

  • The West Deptford School District expects to save $475,000 by eliminating neighborhood schools for students in grades 1-4. In the fall all 1st graders will attend Oakview Elementary School, all 2nd graders will attend Red Bank Elementary School and all 3rd and 4th graders will attend Green-Fields Elementary School.
     
  • The Franklin Township Public Schools, serving students in grades K-6, are considering consolidating with the Delsea Regional School District, which includes grades 7-12.
     
  • The Lumberton Township Schools eliminated 17 jobs and its staff has given up $200,000 in compensation.
     
  • Palmyra Area School District teachers and administrators have given up a 5 percent pay raise, saving $100,000 and averting nine layoffs.
     
  • The Swedesboro-Woolrich School District and Kingsway Regional School District are considering sharing a superintendent.
     
  • The Winslow Township School District will eliminate 40 teaching and 11 staff and support jobs, privatize custodial and maintenance services and slash $2.7 million in capital projects. But the Township Committee restored all but some $200,000 of a tax increase rejected by voters, averting the threatened closure of the 300-student Elementary School One.

The Background

Faced with an $11 billion state deficit, in February Gov. Christopher J. Christie cut current-year state school aid by $475 million and in March announced $820 million in cuts for the 2010-2011 school year. He called on teachers to accept a wage freeze and urged voters when they went to the polls April 20 to reject school budgets where teachers did not agree to a wage freeze.

In South Jersey districts where teachers accepted a wage freeze, voters nevertheless rejected school budgets in Mantua, Southampton and Florence, while narrowly passing the budget in Woodland. Statewide, voters accepted the budgets in 13 of 20 districts with wage freezes.

Leading up to the vote, Christie and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)  feuded. After a Bergen County teachers’ official publicly prayed for Christie’s death, the NJEA apologized. When a Monroe Township 3rd grade teacher sent home two questions asking whether parents voted in school budget elections and intended to do so this year, Christie accused teachers of using students as “drug mules” to convey voting information — and refused to apologize for it.

The Vote

Here is the district-by-district April 20 school budget vote in South Jersey.

SCHOOL DISTRICT

YES

NO

Audubon Boro

850

589

Audubon Park

81

120

Barrington

512

368

Bass River

139

120

Bellmawr

454

567

Berlin Boro

610

530

Berlin Twp.

228

295

Beverly City No. 1

119

186

Beverly City No. 2

 0

1

Black Horse Pike Regional

4,856

4,449

Brooklawn

64

49

Bordentown Regional

981

1,295

Burlington City

480

532

Burlington Township

1,242

1,498

Cherry Hill

4,905

5,292

Chesilhurst

19

87

Chesterfield

311

512

Cinnaminson

1,273

1,953

Clayton

395

432

Clearview Harrison

973

699

Clearview Mantua

1,014

1,137

Clementon

183

223

Collingswood

880

604

Delanco

301

398

Delran

1,273

1,501

Delsea Elk

273

302

Delsea Franklin

727

1,091

Deptford

1,414

964

East Greenwich

706

716

Eastampton

490

338

Eastern Camden Regional

2,485

2,586

Edgewater Park

410

506

Elk

276

299

Evesham

3,293

3,792

Florence

745

968

Franklin

754

1,050

Gateway

977

1,088

Gibbsboro

217

169

Glassboro

947

847

Gloucester City

390

372

Gloucester Twp.

3,601

3,367

Greenwich

644

526

Haddon Twp.

1,109

1,242

Haddonfield

1,865

1,106

Haddon Heights

934

642

Hainesport

467

514

Harrison

924

750

Hi Nella

24

14

Kingsway East Greenwich

694

728

Kingsway South Harrison

292

390

Kingsway Swedesboro

119

167

Kingsway Woolwich

777

972

Laurel Springs

138

157

Lawnside

248

162

Lawnside No. 2

212

196

Lenape Regional

10,588

12,327

Lindenwold

301

463

Logan

316

168

Lumberton

720

791

Magnolia

256

240

Mansfield

698

1,189

Mantua

1,063

1,083

Maple Shade

706

1,144

Merchantville

198

203

Medford Lakes No. 1

480

522

Medford Lakes No. 2

 433

628

Medford Twp.

2,427

2,449

Monroe

1,509

2,557

Moorestown

2,815

1,831

Mount Ephraim

246

406

Mount Holly

324

485

Mount Laurel

2,828

3,355

National Park

169

247

New Hanover/Wrightstown

49

79

Newfield

61

110

Northern Burlington Regional

1,506

2,365

North Hanover

227

386

Oaklyn

238

289

Palmyra

424

593

Paulsboro

271

190

Pemberton Twp.

623

791

Pennsauken

996

1,572

Pine Hill

326

355

Pinelands Regional

126

132

Pitman

769

771

Rancocas Valley Regional

2,359

2,620

Riverside

396

504

Riverton

306

245

Runnemede

791

459

Shamong

598

728

Somerdale

259

208

South Harrison

303

385

Southampton

847

1,070

Springfield No. 1

305

444

Springfield No. 2

299

455

Springfield No. 3

273

479

Sterling Regional

1,080

1,004

Stratford

562

566

Swedes Woolwich

908

1,118

Tabernacle

691

849

Voorhees

1,654

1,861

Washington (Burlington Co.)

19

146

Washington (Gloucester Co.)

4,445

4,040

Waterford

500

750

Wenonah

277

285

West Deptford

1,303

1,754

Westampton

451

493

Westville

222

223

Willingboro

1,031

1,195

Winslow

1,376

1,518

Woodbury

359

451

Woodbury Heights

355

304

Woodland

129

109

Woodlynne

100

60

Woodlynne No. 2

109

50

Source: Unofficial results, New Jersey Department of Education

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