March 2020 Spotlight

budget

Mark your calendars for the following dates:

  • Wednesday, March 4th  – 7:30 PM  Education Foundation (EFLS) Meeting – Point Road

  • Sunday, March 8th – Daylight Savings Begins

  • Wednesday, March 18th - 7:00 PM Board of Education Meeting – Markham Place

  • Friday, March 20th  - EFLS Event

  • Thursday, March 26th - Saturday, March 28th  - Markham Place Play


    Download a full color version of this Spotlight


News from the Garden State Coalition of Schools

As you know, Little Silver is a member of the Garden State Coalition of Schools (GSCS).  The GSCS is a non-partisan, non-profit Education Advocacy Organization.  The GSCS advocates at the state level for quality public education for New Jersey's children, and also serves the public by maintaining high-level information services.  Every year, GSCS puts together the "Critical Issues Sheet" to help guide our advocacy efforts throughout the year. We also hand the sheet to legislators, legislative aides and policy makers.


Theater Goers – Mark Your Calendars!

The Markham Place School Theater will present Disney's The Lion King Jr. on Thursday, March 26th at 4:30 PM, Friday, March 27th at 7:00 PM, and Saturday, March 28th at 7:00 PM. Tickets for the Thursday matinee performance will be $8. Additionally, senior citizens can receive one complimentary ticket to the Thursday performance. Friday and Saturday tickets will be sold for $10. Tickets will go on sale to the public on Thursday, March 19th and will be sold online at https://www.showtix4u.com. Search for Little Silver and click on "Current Events" to purchase tickets. To receive a senior citizen complimentary ticket, stop by the main office of the school. 

The African savannah comes to life on your stage with Simba, Rafiki and your favorite unforgettable cast of characters as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle... and back again, in this inspiring, coming-of-age tale. The production will last approximately 1.5 hours, and with colorful characters and an irresistible score, The Lion King Jr. is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all ages!

You can follow our show on Twitter at @MPSTheater. We hope to see you at the show!

Little Silver – Budget Fact Sheet 2020

It’s that time of year when we are creeping closer to presenting the 2020-2021 budget to the community.  On Wednesday, March 18th, the Little Silver Board of Education will accept a tentative budget adoption, with the final budget presentation to the community on Thursday, April 30th.  Since New Jersey lawmakers imposed the 2% limit on annual property taxes in July of 2010, the Little Silver School district has been discussing the impact of the cap on our district budget when our expenses continue to rise at a rate that exceeds 2%.  It is now 2020.  This has been a decade old conversation, and Little Silver residents have been called upon time and again to partake in letter writing campaigns to our legislators.  We came to the realization long ago that there is no place left to cut, so our solution lies on the revenue-end of budgeting – both locally and at the State level.

During this 2019-2020 school year, we implemented our Activity Participation Fee.  Specifically, in June 2019, the Little Silver Board of Education passed Policy 2436 - Activity Participation Fee Program.  The implementation of this policy did not come without issue.  Respectfully, Central Office personnel devoted numerous hours of time reaching out to parents in regards to their child’s participation in various activities.  We took a very self-reflective approach to the problem to refine our protocols so that we could ensure proper implementation of the policy and collection of the fees.  The process has improved as the year has progressed. 

Over the past several years, the district has offered a “voluntary” technology insurance plan for parents at the rate of $20 per child annually.  The parent participation rate is high.  During this school year, 69% of Point Road parents purchased the insurance and 83% of Markham parents purchased the insurance.  Beginning the 2020-2021 school year, the purchase of technology insurance will be required, not optional.  Exceptions will be made for those children who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch Rates. 

Based on our roughly 15.6 million dollar for this 2019-2020 budget, the 2% property tax cap allows Little Silver to increase the local tax levy by about $270,000 (2% x $13,454,246 = $269,084.  $13,454,246 + $269,084 = $13,723,330).

March 18, 2020 Tentative Budget Adoption for 2020-2021 School Year

March 14, 2019 Tentative Budget Adoption for 2019-2020 School Year

The municipality of Little Silver sends approximately $23 million dollars to the State.  In return, for the 2020-2021 school budget, Little Silver Schools is projected to receive $635,581 in State Aid, an increase over last year in the amount of $87,246.  Little Silver is essentially a locally-funded district.  For this 2019-20 school budget, tax payers assumed 94.3% of the total cost to run the district.  For the 2020-2021 school budget, taxpayers will assume 90% of the total cost to run the district.  We are making some progress! 

The total tentative district budget for 2020-2021 is $16,182,455 (General Fund of $15,189,219 + Federal Revenue of $218,661 + Debt Service of $774,575 = $16,182,455).  The Federal monies ($218,661) offset our costs for Special Education, services for general education students needing educational intervention, and professional development for staff.  The Debt Service account ($774,575) pertains to monies for building additions and renovations the community previously voted to support via referendum.  The General Fund represents the bulk of our operating budget.   The General Fund has two parts: 1. The local tax levy ($13,723,330) and 2. Revenue from: State Aid, Tuition, Transportation, Interest, Excess Surplus, and Reserve withdrawal. 

Little Silver no longer meets the provisions for “banked cap” and/or current waivers (1. Enrollment Adjustment, 2. Healthcare Waiver, 3. Deferred Pension, or 4. Shifting to and from) therefore; we cannot extend our budget beyond 2%, and this is crippling. 

Maintaining the cost of special education funding has been challenging. Funding the cost of educating those children that have extraordinary needs is inequitable.  Extraordinary Special Education Aid is a reimbursable item given back to districts the year after the expense is incurred.  As a result, the district has to plan for those expenditures knowing that reimbursement will come 1 year later at a fraction of the expenditures.  For students in a public school placement, the eligible reimbursable amount is anything above $40,000 per child.  For students in private placements, the eligible amount is anything above $55,000 per student.  For example, if a child in our district costs $60,000 to educate, we would be eligible to apply for reimbursement for $20,000 (the amount above the minimum threshold of $40,000).  For this past year, the percent of reimbursement that the State has been able to afford is 58% (or in the aforementioned example, $11,600 or 58% of the $20,000 eligible amount).  Therefore, for the child that costs $60,000 - the district pays the $40,000 base amount plus another $8,400 (or the 42% of the reimbursable amount that the State cannot fund).  Transportation costs are not reimbursable at all. 

Members of the legislature have taken slightly different approaches to school funding issues.  Democratic Representatives from District 11 have put forth a proposal, some of which would greatly benefit Little Silver.  They have proposed:

1.    Fully funding the final $200 million in Extraordinary Special Education Aid, ending a system that penalizes schools for investing in special education and giving every student with special needs the resources they need to succeed; This would help Little Silver tremendously!

2.    Funding an additional $200 million in one-time transitional education aid to ease the transition to new demographic and fiscal realities while preserving important educational programs by holding districts harmless to prior year aid levels for one year, letting us continue toward a more equitable distribution of state aid that balances the needs of all New Jersey students; This would not apply to Little Silver.

3.    Funding these programs through an increase in the state corporate tax rate, forcing big corporations to put the windfalls they received from the federal "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" toward our students' education, rather than stock buybacks and exotic investments;  This could help Little Silver!

4.    Strengthening regional school districts, ensuring that our school funding system works to the advantage of efficiently consolidated districts like Freehold Regional - rather than against them; This would not apply to Little Silver

5.    Reviewing and updating the school funding formula, modernizing our state's education system to account for present-day costs of special education, transportation, free and reduced lunch, and other expenses.  This would tremendously help Little Silver!


The CDC is Urging Schools to Prepare for the Coronavirus

On February 25, 2020, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, advised that schools need to prepare for a nationwide surge in cases of the coronavirus.  The New Jersey Department of Education has not yet provided specific guidance on this matter.  That said, the Little Silver School District has already begun to take a proactive approach.  Over the past month, we have begun using a hospital-grade product to more extensively clean classrooms and environments, with special attention being paid to those locations where absenteeism has been high.  While highly unlikely that it would be necessary, our Crisis Management Plans include provisions for Pandemic Situations. 

The New Jersey Department of Health continues to provide information on the Coronavirus Disease. Click NJDOH for information. 

Aside from the Coronavirus, this is flu season.  We have had many cases of the flu over the past several weeks.  To prevent widespread flu in our schools, we recommend that your child stay home from school if he/she is experiencing flu or cold symptoms.  To help prevent the flu and other colds, teach your children good hygiene habits: 

  • Wash hands frequently  
  • Do not touch eyes, nose or mouth  
  • Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  • After using a paper tissue, throw it away and then wash hands  
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick 

Colds and influenza are the most contagious during the first 48 hours.  A child who has a fever should remain at home until they are “fever free” for a minimum of 24 hours.  Often when a child awakens with vague complaints (the way colds and flu begin), it is wise to observe your child at home for an hour or two before deciding whether or not to bring to school.  Your child should be physically able to participate in all school activities on return to school.  Keeping a sick child at home will help minimize the spread of infections and viruses in the classroom. 


Census 2020

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.  The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for our communities. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.  The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.


2020 Calendar Uncertainty

On an annual basis the Little Silver Board of Education approves a calendar that includes provisions for two snow days.  If additional snow days are needed, they are added to the calendar.  If the included days are not used, they are returned.  While March can be an unpredictable month, weather predictions suggest that the warmer weather patterns will continue.

If that is the case, there will be an adjustment to the end-of-year schedule that will likely move 8th Grade Graduation to a date earlier than the currently scheduled Friday, June 19th.  RBR’s Graduation is set for Thursday, June 18th.  We will not conflict with that date under any circumstances.  As we progress through March, a definitive decision will be made. 


Did you know that the Education Foundation of Little Silver (EFLS) is hosting their annual fundraising event on Friday, March 20, 2020 at the Navesink Country Club located at 50 Luffburrow Lane, Middletown, NJ 07748.  Come support the EFLS in helping to provide our students with the most current technologies!