Lenape Valley budget presented to public

| 04 Apr 2012 | 01:23

    STANHOPE — The Lenape Valley Board of Education presented their budget for the 2012-13 school year at their March 28 meeting, which was open to the public. The $14,292,764 proposed budget is at the state-mandated 2 percent cap. Due to the new state legislation moving elections to November, there will not be a district-wide vote on the budget. The decision is in the hands of the Board of Trustees. The proposed budget means that for every $100 of assessed home value in Byram, school taxes will rise by $0.02, and $0.01 in Netcong, but decrease by $0.02 in Stanhope. Byram has a new assessed property value base but the increase of $53 for the average home assessed at $253,020 is comparable to last year’s assessed property value base. Netcong will experience a $30 increase for its $293,484 average assessed home. Stanhope will see a decrease in $55 for the $225,154 average home assessment. According to Superintendent Paul A. Palek, Jr. prudent budgeting this year allowed Lenape to reach the cap without further major reductions while increasing educational programs. In his presentation, Palek confirmed that the regional high school continues to share service agreements such as technology personnel, athletic facilities, school supplies, special education transportation, fuel for vehicles, road materials, and insurance with the three sending districts. After the state cut funding for 2010-11, employees took a salary freeze. New contracts were not instituted until November 2011. Employees continue making 1.5 percent contributions toward health benefits. The athletic/co-curricular activity fee is also still in effect. Despite all of these costly measures, Palek reminded everyone that Lenape maintains “conservative class sizes” in English, math and other core courses while continuing to offer a “progressive elective program.” Lenape expects to enroll close to 800 students next year and to maintain the average class size ratio of 22:1. Palek believes the implementation of additional SmartBoards along with an iPad pilot program will also benefit the students. Approximately $4,217,068 in state aid will be received next year. As a result of Lenape being named a Reward “A” School, the district received a $236,736 overall increase in state aid. Other news Next fall a new record management system will be implemented. The system will collaborate with the three sending districts' procedures and create a seamless entry into Lenape for ninth-graders. Palek is still waiting to hear if Lenape will be chosen to take part in a new teacher evaluation pilot program. “We will need to implement it regardless,” said Palek. However, selected recipients will receive a grant and in Palek’s mind that is better than allocating existing funds. Board member Dr. Joseph A. Carducci, Jr. resigned last month. The board appointed his daughter, Dr. Erin Carducci, to fill the vacancy immediately. Carducci’s seat will expire in November. Anne Keenan of Netcong has a one-year term that also expires. Paul Tracy of Byram, Ann Weber of Byram, and Sharon Still of Netcong hold three-year terms that will expire in November as well. Since the new legislation has moved the general election to Nov. 6, the filing office for school board petitions is available in the county clerk’s office. Petitions for Sussex County school boards can be found on the county clerk’s website at www.sussexcountyclerk.com. Morris county petitions will be available in the Lenape Board of Education Office next week. As a result of the mild winter, the district is in a position to adjust the current school calendar. Lenape will be closed on May 18, May 25 (Memorial Day observance), and June 8.