Freehold Regional board adopts $208.9M budget for 2019-20

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The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education has adopted a $208.97 million budget that will fund the operation of the district for the 2019-20 school year.

District administrators said the budget will be supported by the collection of $141.76 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners in the district’s eight sending municipalities: Colts Neck, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.

The district’s 2018-19 budget totaled $211.09 million and was supported by a tax levy of $138.39 million, according to district administrators.

From 2018-19 to 2019-20, total spending is down $2.12 million and the tax levy is up $3.37 million.

In 2019-20, under the terms of legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018, the district will continue to see its state aid decrease. State aid to the FRHSD will decrease by $3.78 million from $50.3 million in 2018-19 to $46.52 million in 2019-20.

Administrators have said the decrease in state aid will continue through the 2024-25 school year. Freehold Regional has joined other school districts that are losing state aid in litigation that seeks to overturn the law, which is known as S-2.

“The district’s financial position will continue to erode as the state shifts aid away from districts like Freehold Regional, despite being a model for the efficient delivery of student opportunity,” Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Boyce said.

“We remain committed to advocating for the community and preserving the programs and services that have distinguished this district in the state,” Boyce said.

Board President Carl Accettola, Vice President Jennifer Sutera and board members Amy Fankhauser, Kathie Lavin, Diana Cappiello, Peter Bruno, Samuel Carollo and Mike Messinger voted “yes” on a motion to adopt the budget on April 29. Freehold Borough representative Heshy Moses was absent.

On the appropriations side of the budget, there are several significant decreases from 2018-19 to 2019-20: Total Capital Outlay has decreased from $1.28 million to $214,000; Operation and Maintenance of Plant Services has decreased from $17.05 million to $16.61 million; Regular Programs – Instruction has decreased from $58.24 million to $56.9 million; and Facilities Acquisition and Construction Services has decreased from $1.08 million to $8,101. Those decreases total approximately $3.88 million.

One of the most significant increases on the appropriations side is Personal Service – Employee Benefits, which has increased by $1.76 million from $34.55 million in 2018-19 to $36.31 million for 2019-20, according to the budget.

Administrators provided the tax levy that property owners in each sending municipality will pay in the upcoming school year, and relevant tax information:

• Colts Neck: $12.8 million tax levy for 2019-20, down from $13.5 million in 2018-19. The high school tax rate has decreased from 44.6 cents to 42.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $813,700 and that individual will pay $3,441 in FRHSD taxes in 2019-20.

• Englishtown: $1.09 million tax levy for 2019-20, up from $1 million in 2018-19. The high school tax rate has increased from 40.2 cents to 42.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $300,000 will pay $1,269 in FRHSD taxes.

• Farmingdale: $593,080 tax levy for 2019-20, up from $569,765 for 2018-19. The high school tax rate has increased from 33.9 cents to 35.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a home assessed at $300,000 will pay $1,065 in FRHSD taxes.

• Freehold Borough: $3.97 million tax levy for 2019-20, up from $3.6 million for 2018-19. The high school tax rate has increased from 34.2 cents to 36.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $255,415 and that individual will pay $935 in FRHSD taxes.

• Freehold Township: $27.77 million tax levy for 2019-20, down from $28.20 million for 2018-19. The high school tax rate has decreased from 44.2 cents to 42.1 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $402,410 and that individual will pay $1,694 in FRHSD taxes.

• Howell: $32.21 million tax levy for 2019-20, up from $30.96 million for 2018-19. The high school tax rate has decreased from 44.9 cents to 44.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $343,544 and that individual will pay $1,535 in FRHSD taxes.

• Manalapan: $29.21 million tax levy for 2019-20, up from $27.57 million for 2018-19. The high school tax rate has increased from 41.5 cents to 42 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $448,700 and that individual will pay $1,884 in FRHSD taxes.

• Marlboro: $34.12 million tax levy for 2019-20, up from $32.95 million for 2018-19. The high school tax rate has increased from 45.8 cents to 47.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The average home assessment is $494,605 and that individual will pay $2,344 in FRHSD taxes.

Freehold Regional High School District taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill. The total tax bill also includes municipal taxes, local school district taxes and Monmouth County taxes.

The amount an individual pays in taxes is determined by the assessed value of his home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

Regarding the district’s enrollment and staffing, Boyce said, “We expect to continue to adjust staffing to correspond to enrollment decreases. Staffing evaluations are ongoing based on students accepting placement in Freehold Regional magnet schools, vocational programs and private schools, as well as course selection.”

According to budget documents, the district’s enrollment has decreased from 10,827 students in October 2017, to 10,673 students in October 2018, to an estimated 10,564 students in October 2019.