State Aid Cuts Mitigated with Other Revenue Sources and Non-Classroom Reductions


Little Silver, NJ – The Red Bank Regional School (RBR) district budget operating budget for the 2010-2011 school year is $23,992,025 which is 1.88% lower than last year and maintains all current staff and programs. The reduction is due to several important factors including a decrease in tuition costs (amount paid for out-of-district special education students) and reduced expenses due to shared service agreements with other school districts and municipalities. RBR also had reductions in its capital budget since several non-recurring projects were completed last year. Further budget reductions were made in transportation (eliminating one late bus) professional development, technology purchases, supplies and miscellaneous expenditures.

The tax levy is $60,000 under the state allowable budget cap representing a 3.66% increase. This increase would have been half that amount, if not for the state’s decision to reduce state aid by 78% this year to address its fiscal crisis.  RBR lost $1.2 million for the 2010-2011 school year compounding a loss of state aid of $525,000 for the current school year. The latter was eliminated by the state with instructions to substitute budgeted surplus (also known as fund balance) to fund the current budget. Budget surplus is more appropriately classified as taxpayer’s relief. It is accumulated by carefully managing expenses throughout the year which is then applied to the next year’s budget to fund expenses, thereby reducing the tax levy.

While the loss of state aid negatively impacts revenues, RBR is in a better position than most other school districts to weather this kind of loss since the district has other sources of revenue including tuition for its four-year academies and significant grant money. In fact, of the total revenues that fund the district, the tax levy composes 74%, tuition revenues 12%, grants 5% and state aid only 1% (down from 4.7% before the state’s cuts). Miscellaneous income of 8% represents the accumulated fund balance, interest revenue and transportations fees (providing such services for other districts.)

Voters in the towns of Little Silver, Red Bank and Shrewsbury will be asked to vote on the operating budget on Tuesday, April 20. Tax increases for each town is determined by a complicated county formula which takes into account a town’s enrollment of students in the high school versus elementary schools and the current assessed value of homes in the town compared to market value. RBR has no control over this calculation. The increase represents:  .014 or one cent cents (per $100,000 of assessed value) for Little Silver or $70.10 per year (for an averaged assessed home); .01 or one cent for Red Bank or $39.37 per year; .o34 or 23 cents  for Shrewsbury or $133.85 per year.  The variation between the towns represents the difference in the aforementioned assessed versus market value; however it is important to note that all three towns provide a proportional amount of the tax levy based on their student enrollment. That is, Little Silver contributes approximately 31%; Red Bank 45% and Shrewsbury 24%, which also reflects their school enrollment in the high school.

RBR was recognized by the NJ Monthly magazine as one of the three top high schools in New Jersey and #3 in Monmouth County behind the districts of Holmdel and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional. It maintains a very strong and diversified curriculum with 19 AP courses, 26 honor course, and 75 electives. Many elective selections enable students who enroll in one of the four-year academies including Visual and Performing Arts, Technology, Finance and Engineering to major in a subject area. RBR won a major federal Small Learning Communities’ grant three years ago, which helps fund its Freshman Academy (which demystifies a large school for its youngest students) and four three-year academies. The four small learning communities allow for student concentrations in the areas of Math and Science; Humanities and Social Studies, Sports Medicine and Management and International and Global Studies and is recognized as optimum learning environment for student high school success.

This year, RBR introduced the prestigious International Baccalaureate Program and expanded its AVID program, a renowned and successful college readiness program. For ten years, RBR has maintained a School Based Youth Services Program, known as The SOURCE, which is funded primarily by a state grant and supplemented by the Board of Education and foundation fund-raising. The SOURCE provides therapeutic counseling for students and their families, along with academic support initiatives, preventative healthcare and recreational opportunities.  Additionally, RBR’s comprehensive school program offers 25 varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams, and 30 extracurricular activities and clubs.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...