Wednesday, July 24, 2024

North Warren School Board Braces for Budget Cuts

Preliminary discussions on the North Warren Regional School District’s 2023-2024 budget gave Superintendent Jeanene Dutt time to brace taxpayers for what is expected to be major cuts in state aid.

Dutt said a cut of about $800,000 for the upcoming school year could be necessary.

“The school community and the board and the parents have been hearing about the state aid losses that we’ve had, and we get a lot of questions on this,” Dutt said. “Why did we lose so much money? Why is North Warren suffering as much as we are in comparison to other districts in our county that are gaining millions of dollars?”

The short answer, Dutt said, is that enrollment has dropped significantly, one of the many factors that are considered when calculating state aid.

The North Warren district also has fewer disadvantaged students, Dutt added.

“We don’t have low socioeconomic status here,” she said.

Smaller numbers of students in English language learner and English as second language programs mean fewer “multipliers.”

Other factors include less students eligible for free and reduced lunch.

“We don’t have high numbers there,” Dutt said. “The higher numbers you have for those things, the more aid you get from the state.”

Other costs that will need to be considered include transportation expenditures. District Business Administrator Jennifer Kerr said transportation costs increased 5.68% for the current school compared to 1.9% the previous year.

Dutt said the boilers in the school are nearing the end of their mechanical lives.

“They are very, very old. They’re not going to last us much longer,” she said.

The cost of a new boiler could be $800,000, Kerr said.

The North Warren Board of Education is expected to vote on the adoption of the budget at its April 24 regular meeting.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.