HIGHLANDS, NJ – On Tuesday, March 1, 2011, the Highlands Elementary Board of Education adopted their tentative 2011-2012 budget and authorized its submission to the Acting Executive County Superintendent of Schools. Dr. George, Interim Superintendent of Schools reported, “This Board of Education developed the 2011-2012 budget in accordance with the District’s Mission Statement to ensure that each student has the opportunity to become an independent and critical thinker on the path to becoming a life-long learner.” Through fiscally prudent budgetary practices, the District’s budget will decrease $99,128, or 2.7% from the 2010-2011 budget. The District has worked diligently for the past several months to identify cost saving measures, while preparing to develop a fiscally sound budget according to the mandates developed by the NJ Department of Education.
These efforts include entering into shared services agreements with the Hazlet Township School District to operate the business office, which will save the District over $60,000 annually. The current arrangement for interim superintendent services saves the District an additional $6,000 each month. Other cost saving measures contributed to a total budget reduction of $99,128. These combined savings will assist the District in providing the taxpayers of Highlands with a budget that is fiscally responsible, yet able to support the rigorous academic programs provided for our students.
“Our Board is dedicated to meeting the needs of all of our students through a comprehensive educational program, while minimizing the impact on our taxpayers,” stated Karen Horner, Board of Education President.
On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, the New Jersey Department of Education released State aid figures for the 2011-2012 school year. Each school district in the State received a 20% return of the State aid cut in the prior year. “The Highlands Borough Board of Education has dedicated the full $38,401 in State aid increase to direct tax relief for our residents,” said Karen Horner, Board of Education President. A combination of the additional State aid and budgetary reductions will allow the District’s tax rate to remain stable with a projected minimal increase from 56 cents to 57.2 cents.
Next year’s operating budget is $3.6 million, a decrease of 2.7% from the current budget and almost $221,000 lower than last year’s 2009-10 budget. “We are going to operate next year with a budget that is almost 3% less than 2009-2010, while not compromising the integrity of the education provided to our students,” explained Dr. William O. George, Interim Superintendent of Schools.