LONG BRANCH: The Long Branch School District budget calls for higher taxes, but no major staff or program reductions.
"We want to maintain the quality programs and people we have working for us," Long Branch School District Superintendent Michael Salvatore said.
The 2015-16 budget, which was adopted by the Long Branch Board of Education on April 29, totals $95.3 million an increase over last year's budget of $93.2 million.
The budget carries a 7 cent tax increase and a tax rate of .077 cents per $100 of assessed value.
For the owners of a home valued at $365,000, it's a $23 per month increase, Salvatore said.
The district received $52 million in state aid this year and $1.6 million in federal funding.
"Without the state aid, we wouldn't be able to do the great things we do at this district," Salvatore said.
He said the district has the highest enrollment in its history with 5,613 students in nine schools. That total includes over 800 preschool students.
The district was able to keep health insurance costs lower for its employees by taking a unique approach to solving an ever-increasing budget line item.
"We actually built a health center at the high school for staff to go to to seek medical treatment and the children can go to it to seek medical treatment without a co-pay," Salvatore said. "As a result of this, the district has saved a significant number of dollars this year which means we can keep four teachers this year without sending more people home."
The district realized a $750,000 savings this school year as a result of the health center, which received over 2,500 visits in its first six months.