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No Tax Hike in Brick's 2014-15 School Budget

Funding for computers, robotics program included in 2014-15 budget

Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee
Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee
The Brick Board of Education adopted a budget Thursday night that includes millions of dollars worth of improvements to facilities and curriculum programs without a tax hike to go with it.

The board unanimously adopted a $146,520,788 operating budget for the 2014-15 school year Thursday night that includes a $99,113,095 tax levy.

Though the levy has increased from $98,525,693 last year, the budget is aligned with how much real property value has returned since Superstorm Sandy, thus ensuring the tax rate remains stable.

"The net effect is that there is no increase in school taxes," said board member Larry Reid, who worked closely with school officials on the spending plan. "We’re well aware of the situation in Brick Township. The tax assessor reported at a town council meeting that 8,000 homes in Brick were damaged by Sandy, and there’s a lot of hardship going on."

Under state regulations, Brick can maintain a previous tax levy but cannot lower it without sacrificing an equal amount of state aid.

The zero increase in school taxes comes after a similar zero increase two years ago and a slight 0.9 percent increase last year.

The budget includes numerous academic expenditures, including a large increase in the district's technology program. By September, Superintendent Dr. Walter Uszenski said, all high school students will have a laptop computer available to them, while nearly every middle school student will have access to a Chromebook laptop. Additionally, the budget funds the purchase of 900 Apple iPads for elementary school students.

Perhaps one of the most ambitious aspects of the budget is funding for a new robotics program at both of the township's high schools, part of an overall district initiative to create more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classes for students. The robotics program, Academic Officer Dr. Lorraine Morgan said, will include an introduction to robotics class and mechanical design classes which will also touch on the basics of project management.

The budget also funds a full implementation of a new teacher evaluation software application and maintenance of the district's research-based K-5 math program that is aligned with the Common Core curriculum.

A number of capital projects are also funded through the spending plan, including significant security upgrades. The district will expand its network of surveillance cameras and a district-wide radio communications system.

"If we do, God forbid, have any emergency situations, we’ll be able to communicate to the buses, the principals, to the police and 911 operators," Uszenski said. "We do not have that capability right now."

Other capital projects include improvements to the Brick Township High School parking lot, exterior door replacements at several schools and fire alarm replacements at several schools.
Not So Dumb April 25, 2014 at 10:23 AM
The new robotics program at both high schools and the district initiative to create more science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes is an excellent idea. The more our students are involved in science and math the better off they will be. Maybe we'll see our students in one of those science and robot technology contests. With no tax increase in the school and lower taxes in government expenditures is a Great start to a better Brick in 2014/2015. Thanks
Daniel Nee April 25, 2014 at 02:21 PM
J.Jones - The BOE members do not receive any salary or benefits. It's a purely volunteer gig. ;)
Brandy the Dog April 25, 2014 at 02:21 PM
double talk...
J.JONES April 25, 2014 at 06:03 PM
Daniel Nee my comment was directed to Uszenski and Edwards there salaries are up there but I commend them for turning around the board of Ed which was a mess years ago..
Brandy the Dog April 25, 2014 at 06:37 PM
ex-officio CEO CAO budget demon member...

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