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East Windsor Regional School District approves tentative budget

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The East Windsor Regional School District Board of Education approved its tentative $88.7 million budget for 2018-19 and has submitted it to the Executive County Superintendent of Schools for review.

A public hearing and final action on the school district budget has been set for the school board's April 30 meeting. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be held in the cafeteria at Hightstown High School.

The tentative budget for 2018-19 represents a 1.1 percent increase over the 2017-18 budget of $87.8 million. The major cost drivers in the tentative budget are salaries and benefits. The district also plans to spend more money on instructional supplies and textbooks.

Salaries account for 60.2 percent of spending, followed by benefits, which amount to 18.6 percent of the budget. The salary portion of the budget increased by 2.1 percent, but the cost of benefits went up by 9.8 percent.

The proposed spending plan also includes several new teaching positions - a special education teacher and an English as a Second Language teacher at the Melvin H. Kreps Middle School, and a special education teacher and a biology teacher at Hightstown High School.

There is money in the budget for a speech therapist and two grades K-2 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teachers for the Walter C. Black and Ethel McKnight elementary schools.

The budget also allocates money to fully implement the Hightstown High School Chromebook initiative. Each student will receive a Chrombook laptop computer for use at home and school, beginning in September.

New textbooks for high school-level Spanish will be purchased, along with new textbooks for pre-calculus, calculus, Advanced Placement psychology and world history courses. Novels for English Language Learners in grades K-12 will be purchased, too.

The tentative budget calls for raising $64.9 million in property taxes to support the spending plan. The tax bill is split between East Windsor Township and Hightstown Borough, based on a state formula.

The owner of a house assessed at the East Windsor Township average of $258,691 will pay $5,410 in school district property taxes, which is a $9 increase over last year. In Hightstown Borough, the owner of a house assessed at the borough average of $212,645 will pay $4,645, which is $34 less than last year.

Other sources of revenue to balance the budget include $21.3 million in state aid; $1.3 million in surplus and reserve accounts; $997,837 from other sources; and $92,592 in federal aid.

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