The latest gathering of the Jefferson Township Board of Education focused on the future, as the group made its initial plans toward forming a 2021-22 budget. Proceedings were open to the public in the socially distanced setting of the Jefferson Township High School auditorium, moved from its customary setting in the school’s media center.

BOE Business Administrator Rita Oroho Giacchi led the budget discussion through a presentation, highlighting the budget history and the oncoming process.

“It seems like we’ve just started the current year’s budget, but we’re already well underway in establishing the budget for the 21-22 school year,” Giacchi said in her introduction. “During the month of October, we (worked) on completing prep work. This involves making some revenue projections about state aid and a local tax levy. We perform an enrollment analysis with net history and any significant trends that we need to accommodate. We establish per student supply allocations and we do a detailed review of current year spending to identify if there are any trends that have to be taken into consideration with the go-forward process.”

“Although it seems early, we are gearing up for next year’s budget,” Superintendent Jeanne Howe said. “An outcome of the community relations meeting was to share the budget process, unfunded mandates, and staffing concerns associated with the budget. We started our presentations tonight with a recap of the budget history and the process we will be following.”

November proceedings are underway and on schedule. Schools and departments have begun their initial budget entries and discussions have begun with the Finance Committee at the BOE. A full schedule, provided by the BOE, can be found below.

 

Month Anticipated Activities
October Complete prep work for 21-22 budget process: Revenue Projections (State Aid & Local Tax Levy), Enrollment Analysis, Per-student Supply Allocations, Review of current year spending
November School & Department initial budget entry; Begin discussions with Finance Committee
December/January Initial payroll input, Central Administration Review, Refine key expense projections (salaries, health benefits, property insurance, workman’s comp., Insurance, etc.), ongoing discussions with Finance Committee
February Receipt of State Aid Allocations; Expected budget address on 2/23
March Submission of tentative budget to DOE County Office for review
April Budget Presentation & Public Hearing at Board Meeting
May Budget Adoption at Board Meeting

 

Giacchi stressed that the Board’s committees will be in constant communication for any changes to any incoming plans.

“Every line item that we budget for is based on either a vetted need or assumption,” Giacchi said. “It’s based on historical trends and current priorities.”

Giacchi also went over the school’s funding and enrollment history, as well as a documentation of the state aid in the past, present, and future. Jefferson is expected to receive just over $9.2 million in state aid, which Giacchi equated to 17 percent of the total budget. That’s down from the over $12 million allotted for the 20-21 session.

“This makes the shortfalls in state aid seem even a little more intense than what we have to deal with, as it represented 30 percent of our budget,” Giacchi said. “Therefore, these decreases that we’ve been addressing, they have a large impact on what we can continue to offer.”

Other items covered at the meeting included Howe presenting the original site plan rendering of JTHS, which was framed and will be displayed in the front of the school. Education Committee representative Jill Small revealed a November 2 meeting discussed the return of high school winter sports, whose practices will begin on December 3 with competitions running from December 21 through February 3, followed by a two-week postseason. Small also stated that PSATs will be held for JTHS sophomores and juniors on January 26.

Elsewhere, Amy Gould gave the Building Needs and Finance Committee report. Gould stated that restrictions on facility use by outside organizations will run through the end of the year and will be revisited in the December meeting. Tying in with Giacchi’s report, she said that the anticipated drop in State Aid was likewise discussed, in addition to “possible reductions and other areas of concern,” including new health benefits packages and salary increases. Gould believes that a clearer picture when it comes to these expenses will emerge in the coming months and that the administration will help “refine those revenue projections.”

The Board is next scheduled to meet on December 21.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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