• Frequently Asked Questions

    What is new in this year’s budget?

    Classroom Teachers
    Our Board has set a goal to maintain all current programs and keep class sizes small in the primary grades.   Enrollment will increase in the middle school, so we have had to budget for an additional part-time science teacher.  Last fall enrollment necessitated an additional section in second grade and an additional special education teacher.  Those costs are also included in this years proposed budget.
     
    Autistic Pre-School
    Last year we were fortunate to receive a large grant, through the Governor’s Initiative on Autism to fund a new pre-school.  Those funds supported all costs of set-up, staffing and training to meet the increased demands of our growing autistic population.  This year the funds were not reauthorized by the Department of Education.  The program has been so successful and cost effective that our Board set this as an important priority. With the set-up and training completed, our total program and operational costs have been pared substantially.  It is important to note that our district has worked diligently to provide "in-house" programs for children with special needs.  Given the fact that out of district placements can easily exceed $60-70,000 per child, we know that it is more cost effective, and better for the children and their families, to educate them in their home school.  Currently, we have only two children whose educational plans have to be met by out of district schools.
     
    Technology
    Over the past 6 years our technology program has grown in leaps and bounds; that growth has encompassed the infrastructure and the instructional program.  Besides Internet and e-mail, our in-house technology now serves to manage student records, student scheduling, grade reporting, special education IEP development, mandatory statewide data base management, NJ Department of Education and Federal reporting, accounting and payroll management, budget development, personnel records, bus scheduling, and a web based system that supports information sharing, e-alerts and public relations, and management of maintenance operations (e.g. HVAC management and repair requests)  The current system supports 275 computers, dozens of printers, SMART technology, and a host of multi-media applications that enhance learning opportunities.  To insure system adequacy and maintenance, the budget includes a part-time tech assistant for IT management.
     
    Which projects would be funded in the proposed capital budget?
    The district maintains a Long Range Facility Plan to guide our capital budget.  While the school is 14 years old, we have worked hard to maintain it as a safe, efficient and aesthetically pleasing building. That is no easy chore considering that our facility is open to the public as many as 7 days a week during peak usage times.  In addition to our regular educational program, the facility supports an extensive K-8 extracurricular program, a very large recreation program for children and adults, a summer recreation program, an extended year special education program (summer time) and a child care program that operates before and after school. The major focus of our capital plan will be routine carpet replacement, painting, and repairs to our HVAC system.

    Will we continue to maintain all transportation next year?
    Yes. The Board seeks to maintain transportation for all of our children Pre-K through 12th grade.  Beyond basic mandatory transportation, the budget includes transportation to protect children along hazardous walking routes, and one late bus for students participating in extracurricular activities at both Bedminster and Bernardsville High School.
     
    What have we done to control costs?
    Bedminster School officials have been meeting regularly with representatives from the Township to develop plans that coordinate services to realize shared savings in operations, maintenance, recycling and administration. 

    We’ve also been working hard to manage the costs in our sending-receiving relationship with the high school.  Most recently we resolved questions over tuition costs with a settlement amounting to almost $272,000.  And, we have begun collaborative efforts to look at ways to share special education costs by coordinating programs.  Special education is a major driver in cost containment, and with program modifications we have been able to service almost all of our students in district; such programs effectively save our taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. 

    The recent Comparative Spending Guide from the NJ Department of Education showed that the majority of our spending has been concentrated in the classroom, which goes directly to our Board's child centered goals. Among 65 similar districts (K-8 with enrollment of 401-750) with 65 ranked the highest, our district spending patterns for instruction were among the top ten in

    Ø       Classroom instruction (58/65);
    Ø       Classroom salaries and benefits (57/65);
    Ø       Purchased classroom services (63/65);
    Ø       Salaries of support (special education) service personnel (58/65)
     while administrative costs ranked slightly lower than the average (34/65).
    (Click on the K-8 link for Bedminster; for comparisons lick on the K-12 link for Somerset Hills)
     
    How much are we expected to receive in state aid?
    Our aid from the State of New Jersey is nominal.  In fact, we will only be receiving an additional $31,057 in the current allocation, for a total of $989,108.  This represents an increase of 3.24%, however the new funding formula places an increased burden on local taxpayers to shoulder special education costs.  As such, Bedminster residents will see virtually no demonstrable benefit from state aid.
     
    How will this budget affect my taxes?
    The tentative budget for 2008-09 requires an overall 1.86% increase in the tax levy.  The overall rateable base has increased by 2.07%, therefore, the school tax levy is decreasing from .553 in 2007-2008 to .551 in 2008-2009, representing a .20% decrease.  The average home in Bedminster for 2008 is assessed at $384,812.  Therefore, the school tax is estimated to be $2,120.25.  The average home in Bedminster for 2007 was assessed at $387,905; the 2007 school tax rate was $2,144.53.  These figures are preliminary calculations based on data supplied by the municipal tax assessor and a complicated equalization formula used by the Somerset County Board of Taxation.
     
     How does this tax levy compare to prior years?
    This tentative budget requires a 1.86% increase in the tax levy, the lowest increase in more than 20 years.  This represents both the general operating fund, as well as debt service.
     
     When will elections take place?
    The election will be held on April 15. Polls are open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. with two polling locations:  Bedminster Township School, 234 Somerville Road, Bedminster, NJ  07921 for Districts 1-3 and the Pluckemin Presbyterian Church, US Highway 202-206, Pluckemin, NJ 07978 for Districts 4-9.  Sample ballots containing the address of assigned polling place are typically mailed out to registered voters one week prior to the election. 
    A complete listing can be found on our website  www.bedminsterschool.org.
     
    What happens if the budget fails?
    Failed budgets, by state law, are sent to the governing bodies of the sending municipalities. The local governments are required to review the budget and strike the final tax levy. If they authorize a tax levy lower than the one approved by the Board of Education, they are required to suggest areas of the budget that should be reduced. The Board of Education can abide by the decision of the local governments but are not bound to make cuts in the suggested areas.
     
     
    REMEMBER TO VOTE
    Tuesday, April 15

    Polls Open 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.