This year, there are the nuts and bolts of the budget—and then there's what was on the minds of the 20 or so parents and teachers at Tuesday's pubic hearing: how much would settling the ongoing teacher contract negotiations impact the budget?
Board members wouldn't get into specifics, in accordance with an agreement with the Warren Township Education Association, but stressed the 2 percent tax levy cap means if one area of the budget goes up too much, something else must be cut.
As for the nuts and bolts, the $41.7 million budget approved by the board raises $37,216,026 in local property taxes, an increase of $501,728 or 1.4 percent above the level raised in the 2011-2012 budget. The tax rate will decline from $0.942 per $100 in assessed value to $0.939, however, because of increased assessed values, the owner of a property at the township average of $625,650 will see a $66 increase in taxes for the local district.
Superintendent of Schools Tami Crader reviewed the budget's benefits, which include no reductions in existing educational programs, courtesy busing, and the purchase of iPad carts for classroom use in each school.
The budget also appropriates funds from the Capital Reserve to pay for resurfacing of the playground and part of the parking lot at Mt. Horeb School, new windows at Central School, renovating bathrooms at Mt. Horeb School, as well the rennovation of a faculty bathroom at Woodland School and a long-awaited playground project at Woodland School.
But when questions on the budget came, more were focused on the question of how much settling with the teachers association would impact the budget. Salaries for regular and special education instruction accounts for 41 percent of the district's spending, with benefits another 16 percent.
Several teachers also urged the board to settle with the teachers.
"I do feel our greatest asset is our teachers," Bev MacGorman, a teacher and resident, said. "I do feel money needs to be put into teacher's salaries—I would encourage you to find the money to do that."