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Slight Tax Hike for 2013-14 School Budget; New Curriculum, Improvements Included

Taxpayers will pay about $24 more per year, on average

Brick Township's Board of Education has proposed a budget for the 2013-14 school year that will rise by 0.9 percent over the current school year.

The board unanimously voted in favor of sending the $147 million spending plan to the county superintendent of schools for approval before final adoption. The budget calls for a total tax levy of $98,525,693, up from $97,160,762 last year.

"We feel it's a responsible budget for the students of Brick Township as well as the taxpayers," said James Edwards, the district's business administrator.

The budget funds a full-day kindergarten program, numerous revamps of district curriculum and technology advances that will allow teachers to track students' progress through their academic careers.

But the main reason for the increase in the budget are two factors that are largely out of the board's control: a higher workman's compensation premium and the obligation of the district to set aside an extra $300,000 to compensate employees for their unused sick time cashouts upon retirement, said board member Larry Reid, who chairs the board's finance committee.

"Our school district has claims for workman's compensation insurance that is 48 percent higher than the average school district," said Reid. "Out of those 330 schools, we have the tenth worst rating," leading to an increase of $670,775 in premiums this year.

As for the increase in the amount set aside for unused sick time payouts: "You can see that it is impacting our budget, and it's unsustainable," said Reid. "It doesn't go on in private industry."

Superintendent Dr. Walter Uszenski said the district is looking at how to tackle the workman's compensation issue.

The unused sick time issue is more of a statewide issue, officials said.

But despite the relatively small budgetary increase, the district will fund its full day kindergarten program as well as $2.2 million in capital improvements, including parking lot repairs and replacements, a new dust collection system at Lake Riviera Middle School, lunch table replacements at Osbornville Elementary School, new exterior siding at Brick Township High School, the refinishing of several gym floors, air conditioning upgrades and new doors for the Brick Memorial High School auditorium.

Also included in the budget are several educational initiatives that will directly benefit students, including the addition of six new advanced placement courses at each high school, 11 new staff members for the kindergarten program, a new K-5 math program, a new K-3 reading program, a K-8 online reading program and a new teacher evaluation system. The district will also have a second athletic director, and will fund PSATs for high school sophomores.

Better technology funded in the budget will also allow teachers to track students' progress from K-8, Uszenski said.

Improvements to the district's security will include additional security cameras and an expansion of the district's intercom system.

Given the improvements, "We are very proud that the budget is less than a percent," said Edwards.

Based on the 2012 tax base, the average Brick homeowner can expect their taxes to rise $8.06 per $100,000 of assessed value. That amounts to about $24 for a homeowners whose property is assessed at $300,000.

Given the reduction in tax base from Sandy, Edwards estimated an additional $0.80 cents per $100,000 in value could be added.

The budget "covers all of our students," said board Vice President John Talty.

"There is nothing being cut or being reduced, and the additions we made are important additions," he said.

carol jones March 22, 2013 at 03:42 PM
Amen can't wait to see what happend when all the Sandy appeal, etc hit the fan
Daniel Nee (Editor) March 22, 2013 at 04:00 PM
There is no longer a public referendum required if the budget increase is less than 2 percent.
Wendie March 22, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Uh - no, it's not. It's a Ponzi scheme. What they had deducted paid for a myriad of other things. Seniors' SS is being paid by the people working today. One thing about Ponzi schemes - they ALL have a beginning, a middle, and an END. I'll let you figure out the rest. I find it a disgrace that after the worst natural disaster in living memory, from which people still haven't recovered, and may NEVER recover, the school board unanimously approved a budget with ANY tax hike whatsoever. What a slap in the face, as if the people of Brick haven't had enough of those over the past five months! Under what circumstances do we NOT get an increase? Does this just go on indefinitely? I say NO MORE!! If you guys can't run the school system for 100 MILLION dollars (plus whatever the State and Fed give us back!!), you're incompetent and you have no business teaching our kids. Done. Preposterous. People living in hotels, camping out at their families, with no heat, facing $30,000 flood premiums and outrageous federal mandates to 'mitigate flood risk', and you figure a tax hike on the community you SERVE is appropriate? Have you no souls?
Fight Club March 22, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Just another stupid idea from the Rhino in Trenton
Ed LeFurge March 22, 2013 at 05:04 PM
I applaud the BOE and Dr. U for their outstanding efforts to improve this district!!!
J.JONES March 22, 2013 at 05:36 PM
TAX INCREASES FROM SANDY AND NOW SCHOOL BUDGET WELL ONE WE COULDN'T CONTROL AND THE OTHER ONE IS A NON-SAFE WORKING CONDITIONS ..OR IS IT BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO TEACH ANYMORE SO LETS GET HURT AND GO WORKERS COMP FOR A PAID VACATION..MILKING THE SYSTEM..AND THEY CANT TAKE DAYS OFF DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR ??ISN'T THAT WHY THEY HAVE SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS..?? WHICH MAY BE BETTER THEN THE REG. ONE ???
J.JONES March 22, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Why can't there be a vacation and sick day cap rather them carrying them over to have a big nest egg when they retire ..Its should use them or lose them ...
A Polymath March 22, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Retiring teachers in Brick are paid 1 day's salary for every 4 unused sick days. 40 unused sick days = 10 day's pay. This is an incentive to come in to work if the teacher is not severely ill. It benefits the students by maintaining continuity which is often disrupted by introducing a sub. In a lot of cases it also saves money because a sub's pay costs MORE than 1/4 the teacher's regular pay for a day.
Rick Mitukiewicz March 22, 2013 at 06:53 PM
An increase in workman's compensation premiums of $675K! As stated in the article , Dr. U and the staff need to address this ASAP. This is outrageous. A plan should be put forth immediately.
Katherine Lockwood March 22, 2013 at 06:55 PM
This district is in need of many improvements, this is just the start. I applaud this BOE and think the superintendent has a great vision for more improvement. Our system is failing our children, so there is a slight increase in taxes, what isn't increasing? Let's help educate our future so maybe there is a chance one of these brilliant children can save this country!
Fight Club March 22, 2013 at 06:57 PM
they may save the country, but they sure will not be able to afford to live in brick
Rick Mitukiewicz March 22, 2013 at 07:04 PM
I totally disagree with anyone getting one day's salary for not using 4 sick days. If you are severely sick then stay home. If not live up to your obligation to teach and educate our children.
FD March 22, 2013 at 07:28 PM
I always thought a paycheck was incentive enough to go into work. All that maintaining continuity which is often disrupted by introducing a sub talk is union babble. I wonder how many teachers thought of continuity when taking off today to get a early jump on a upcoming vacation week.
Watchman March 22, 2013 at 07:31 PM
And we really need a second athletic director?And how is this going to benefit all the children?
FD March 22, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Anyone know what scale sick and vacation days are paid off at retirement. Example - Teacher saved 100 sick days while making 40K a year, and then another 100 days while making 80K a year. Do they adjust the payout based on each level the days were taken or is it paid off at the last level to teacher was at? I'm not sure if I am using the correct term (level) however I am using level to represent yearly pay.
country joe March 22, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Getting paid for unused sick days, what a concept.. getting paid for being out sick is just that.. so you dont loose a days pay.. getting paid for unused sick days as an incentive to come in to work doesnt save any money at all... when a teacher/police/public offical, retires and is paid for unused sick / vacation time.. at what rate are they paid ? the rate of pay when they didnt take the time off or is it more like the rate of pay they are now... thats the rip off.. not taking the days, saves nothing
cam March 22, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Anyone know what the salary of a new Athletic Director will be....probably equal to 2 teacher salaries.
Slippery Slope March 22, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Who would like to bet me that all of the new hires, teachers , athletic director and such, all of them, are related to someone with political pull? Anyone care to wager?
Just watching March 22, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Why is Mr Reid complaining about the teachers sick pay when they retire when they are going to give the superintendent a 25,000 Bonus later this year for a couple easy reachable goals so he can make more then the state cap
J.JONES March 22, 2013 at 10:37 PM
wow years ago we had two athletic directors and they had a reduction in force and a very good guy left to go to Clifton ??
J.JONES March 22, 2013 at 10:38 PM
@just added to his 175,000.00 salary wow great country
Joe March 23, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Its nickel and dime time again!
Heather March 23, 2013 at 02:43 PM
I understand that seniors are on a limited budget, but someone had to pay for the seniors to go to school when they were young. And that would be the older generations taxes. And if any seniors ever had children then someone, including themselves paid taxes so their children could go to school. If we want our children to be competitive against other nations then we have to PAY for them to get educated. If you don't want to pay school taxes and SC has a program like that, then move to SC. But it's very selfish to say you don't want to pay to educate kids when you yourself had someone pay for yours.
Mrgrumpass March 23, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Mr. Vera Fozman could also be on the Board of Ed, I am sure he could find places to cut and save money, god only knows he is saving the MUA single handed!
Adeelee March 23, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Chief Watson....I so agree w/you!! I say it is definitely time to get schools off property taxes!! If its not one thing its another w/these schools!!! Whats next!! Next year they'll probably increase again for God's knows what else! Next thing theyll do is say brick needs bigger schools cuz they just keep packing people in thisntown!!
john March 23, 2013 at 08:45 PM
dee m lee.....your post really shows how little you know and how little you care about the schools and childrens education.yes,every year they will increase the budget again...how else are they gonna pay for the increase in the cost of food,water,electric,computers,books, building repairs and anything else that they have to pay for. ( ever hear of the 2% cap). and yes someday they will have to make the schools bigger because there isnt enough room...the schools in brick are in bad shape because of people like you...dont forget...someone had to pay for you to go to school at one time too.
KMC March 24, 2013 at 02:12 AM
Is the athletic director the same athletic director who worked in the district a few years ago but then left? Now he is coming back and the district is paying him $125,000.00? Why two athletic directors again?
Clown Baby March 24, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Then move to South Carolina.
A Girl April 12, 2013 at 11:06 PM
This is actually to type writer. You are not necessarily right about teachers not seeing the inside of a classroom until two days before school. There are teachers in-services during the summer, and most of the teachers I know (admittedly they are all young and on a lower pay scale) tutor or work summer programs. I'm not saying that teachers don't get vacation days during the year due to school holidays, I'm just saying that a lot of teachers do work during the summer months.
A Girl April 12, 2013 at 11:19 PM
You're kidding me, right? Seniors are just as much a drain on resources as children. How about we take away SS or Medicare? Bet you wouldn't like that! I love how the biggest benefactors of social programs are the first to complain about spending. Go ahead, move to South Carolina. Rated worst schools in the country. I wonder why? I can't believe how selfish people are. I don't have children, but you know what, I care about the future of the community I live in. That's why it doesn't bother me when there are slight increases in school budgets.

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