Flat State Aid 'Disappointing,' Board President Says
The district is getting the same amount of aid as in the 2012-2013 school year.
The Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District will be receiving flat state aid this year, but board of education president Patrick Breslin said he's a bit disappointed by the news.
The district will be receiving $9,087,358 for the 2013-2014 school year, a 0 percent increase over the 2012-2013 school year.
"I'm disappointed, but I'm at least happy that we're not losing money this year given the position the state's in," Breslin said. "We've been running the budget very close, so we're going to have to be very close with how we move toward a tentative budget."
The board is preparing to introduce its budget at Tuesday's meeting at 8 p.m. at John F. Kennedy Primary School.
Breslin said the administration was moving forward with its budget with no idea as to how the state aid figures would turn out.
"Honestly, this year there was very little information that came out, leaked or otherwise, so we had no idea what to expect," he said. "Usually there is some kind of a feel for whether it's going to be up or down, or within a certain ballpark, but this year there was nothing at all until the governor's budget statement."
"We were really flying blind," he added.
At the last budget presentation, Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder discussed a possible budget of $139,509,420, a 1.86 percent increase over the 2012-2013 budget.
The budget, at this point, includes seven floater positions and $230,000 for additional security at the Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
But of course, Breslin said, all of this will depend on what happens during a review of the budget.
"The floater positions will depend on the decision of the board when they review and then determine what the actual tentative budget will be," he said.
Breslin said they have had to rely on their administrators to get the job done in putting together a responsible budget.
"It boils down to the fact that we have administrators and board members who have had enough experience over several problematic years, and we are able to put together a budget that we think is within the range of where we were going to end up from a state aid standpoint," he said. "And we can be flexible if things go wrong."
More aid would of course be helpful, Breslin said, but they have to do what they can to meet the needs of the district.
"We go into a budget and we look at what is going to meet the needs of the district and what will be the best budget we can put out for the students, and then we have to be prepared to amend that if things move against us," he said.
"More aid would have been helpful, but we've held taxes down for a number of years, trying to do that in an era following large cuts three years ago that has been difficult in and of itself," he added. "Adjusting state aid upwards would have definitely made it easier on the taxpayers of Bridgewater and Raritan."