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Updated: Millburn Schools to Lose All State Aid

The state Department of Education releases figures that show how much each school district will lose.

The Millburn School District will lose all of its state aid, according to information released by the state Department of Education Wednesday afternoon.

Millburn will lose nearly $3 million in state aid. Gov. Chris Christie presented his budget address Tuesday afternoon, which indicated school districts would not lose more than 5 percent of their total budget.

Earlier in the day Schools Supt. Richard Brodow said he was waiting for official word on how much money the district would lose in the 2010-11 budget. "We're working on contingency plans," he said. "We'll put something together by Monday." The school board is scheduled to meet at 7:45 p.m. at the Education Center on Monday.

School board President Noreen Brunini called the cut Wednesday afternoon a "major blow." "This is something we can't absorb without severe cuts," she said. "This is real money for us."

The district doesn't have surplus funds to absorb the cut in state aid, and it could even affect classroom programs, Brunini said. Brodow will bring the board several options to cut the $3 million from the budget.

The cut comes as a shock to school officials, who were expecting a 15 percent cut in state aid. Brunini cited state Education Commissioner Bret Schundler's talk in Summit where school officials heard of the 15 percent cut in state aid. It's why school officials revised their budget to reflect a 1.2 percent tax increase, she said. "This is very unexpected."

School officials are now scrambling to prepare a budget by Friday so the board can approve it Monday morning so it can be sent to the county superintendent for review. A full presentation will be made about the new budget Monday night. It will be completely different than the last two proposals, Brunini said, and school officials are in the position where they need to start over.

The Millburn School District received nearly $3 million in state aid in the past. The 2009-10 general fund budget, according to the state's document, is $76.5 million. Five percent of the proposed general fund budget is nearly $4 million.

Millburn school officials have proposed a $76.9 million general fund budget and a $83.2 million total budget. But through the use of extra surplus and money left from the construction project, the proposed tax increase is 1.2 percent.

Millburn isn't the only district to lose all of its state aid. Neighboring school districts Livingston and Summit also will lose all of their aid.

Brodow said everyone understands there needs to be cuts. "I think we are entitled to some aid, but not all of it," he said. "It's not fair." The system should more fairly distribute aid, he said.

JJ March 18, 2010 at 08:37 PM
Well - say goodbye to the 1.2 percent tax increase. The state mandated limit is a 2.5% increase - we will obviously need to maximize the property tax increase to minimize the impact on our schools. Many members of our community will benefit from the Governor's decision to eliminate the income tax surcharge on those earning in excess of $400,000 - but many citizens will see higher property taxes (unavoidable) without lowered income taxes. We Love Millburn's ultimatum has become entirely irrelevant. Even extremists must realize that property taxes will need to rise to cushion the blow.
Jennifer Connic March 18, 2010 at 09:12 PM
JJ, that 2.5 percent cap on property tax increase is only a proposal at this time. It would need to be approved by voters as a constitutional amendment in November. Either way, it is a difficult year for the school budget.

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