Sparta BOE introduces tentative budget

More than $60 million in expenditures for 2014-`15

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BY BRETT LAKE
— The Sparta Board of Education introduced the tentative 2014-2015 budget during its March 13 meeting.

The preliminary budget includes more than $60 million in expenditures, along with $700,000 in banked cap monies.

The proposed budget accounts for a 2.24 percent increase from last year’s budget.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 28 at Mohawk Avenue School.

It is likely the numbers will change by the time the council adopts a final budget, said Business Administrator Linda Alvarez.

The final budget must be delivered to the County Superintendent’s office by April 30.

The school district will receive close to $5.9 million in state aid for the 2014-`15 school year, an approximate $70,000 increase from last year’s aid.

According to the tentative budget, around 75 percent of the budget goes toward salaries and benefits, while transportation receives more than six percent; maintenance, custodian and security 5.7 percent, and special education and tuition 5.5 percent.

Other expenses paid by the budget include regular education, 1.9 percent of the budget, administration and technology, 1.7 percent; nurses, guidance, CST and media, .3 percent, charter schools, .6 percent, athletics .4 percent, curriculum and instruction, .2 percent and equipment and capital, 1.6 percent, according to the tentative budget released March 13.

Sparta’s per pupil costs is $19,733, which is above the state average of $18,047. In comparison, Kittatinny’s per pupil costs are $19,224, and High Point Regional High School is $22,470, according to data provided by the Sparta Board of Education.

Capital projects listed in the tentative budget include a track replacement at the high school, along with close to $1 million in capital and maintenance projects.

The district has more than $1.1 million in reserve funds available for the 2014-`15 budget, which include money from the capital and maintenance reserves.

According to the projected class sizes, grades three through five are expected to each lose one staff member, down from 12 last year to 11 in the 2014-`15 budget year, according to the tentative budget.

Class sizes in third grade is expected to drop from 21.3 to 20.2 and in fifth grade from 23.6 to 22.5. The fourth grade class size is expected to increase in 2014-`15 from 20.6 to 23.2, according to the budget numbers.

The class sizes for grade six through eight will each increase slightly from 19.3 to 19.6, while grades nine through twelve will decrease from 25.2 to 23.9, according to the tentative budget.

Last month, the board voted to realign the schools, moving pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes to Alpine School, and thrid grade classes to Mohawk Avenue School.

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