Proposed budget raises Paterson school tax by 12 percent | Paterson Times

Proposed budget raises Paterson school tax by 12 percent


Superintendent Eileen Shafer’s team has proposed raising the school tax on property owners by 12 percent in the 2021-22 academic year budget.

School levy is increased to $61 million, $6.5 million higher than the previous school year, according to information presented to the school board on Wednesday night.

Business administrator Richard Matthews said that’s still far below what homeowners should be contributing to fund schools. He said homeowners’ “fair share” of contribution is $111.7 million.

Matthews said the increase amounts to $12.90 per month for an average property assessed at $192,000.

Matthews said 84 percent of the district’s revenues come from the state. 11 percent from local property owners, 3 percent from the federal government, and 2 percent from other sources.

Matthews expects the state to provide $476.29 million in aid for the 2021-22 school year, up $29 million from the previous year.

The district’s entire budget is $568.21 million for the 2021-22 school year.

Shafer in December said the district had a $50 million budget shortfall. Matthews made no mention of cuts or how the gap was closed during his presentation.

Instead, Shafer is hiring more employees:

  • 3 nurses for $225,000
  • Instructional tech supervisor for $90,000
  • 10 technology coordinators for $450,000
  • And 11 facilities positions for $593,000.

That amounts to $1.35 million in new spending.

Matthews said the facilities positions will result in savings of $410,000 because it will lead to a reduction in outside contracts for cleaning and other services.

“We’re able to cut back on some of the contracts that we have,” said Matthews. “It’s an increase, but we save money on non-salary.”

School board president Kenneth Simmons said a public hearing on the budget will take place in April and final adoption in May.

The district is expected to receive $159.51 million from president Joe Biden’s stimulus package. Shafer’s spokesman did not respond to an email asking what she intends to spend the funds on.

Email: [email protected]

Updated 11:47 a.m.

  • Paterson Resident

    Stop giving tax breaks to big businesses. Do like Paramus and tax the big businesses heavy.

    • MarquinhoGaucho

      fro 12/19 BOE meeting Preliminary Budget Update
      Mr. Richard Matthews: Good evening everyone. We went down to the Department of
      Education on December 6. We were called to come down there and do a talk with the
      State. We weren’t quite sure what the agenda was going to be. We sat down and
      started coming up with some ideas on what we wanted to present to the State. We
      came up with our fund balance review and the preliminary budget that we had worked
      on and given to you guys back at the November meeting. We also came up with a
      bunch of strategies that are ongoing right now that are still being prepared and worked
      out. Some of these strategies are in the beginning stages and some we are still
      compiling numbers. We thought that we wanted to tell them how we got to where we
      are today. This is the presentation that we gave to the State. They gave us some other
      input so we've added some other things in here regarding our taxes and comparisons
      against some other like districts regarding taxes. These are things that we know
      already. Last year we got $13 million in additional state aid, but $11 million got eaten
      Page 6 12/18/19
      up by the charter schools. This current budget year we've budgeted $63 million for
      charter schools. Salaries and benefits are over half of our budget. Charter schools and
      vocational schools are causing costs to rapidly increase as the district's enrollment does
      not at the same rate. This is just a quote from the Education Law Center. It saying with
      S-2, which says that they're going to fully fund the district over a seven-year period, with
      the amount of money that we've been underfunded over the last 10 years, the amount
      of money that they're projecting to give us is not going to be enough to offset what
      we've been short funded. This next slide is a historical tax analysis. Over the last 11
      years we've raised taxes three times. In 2009 we raised taxes 4%, in 2017 taxes were
      raised 6.42%, and in 2019 we raised taxes 14%. For a projection in the 2020-2021
      budget, we've put in there 3% in our preliminary budget presentation. In this slide we
      took a look at what was being done in Paterson. You see here over the last 20 years
      prior taxes had not been raised in Paterson. This next slide is a historical analysis of
      what Paterson Public Schools has done over the last 10 years versus Newark. You can
      see that Newark has raised their taxes $39 million and Paterson has raised taxes an
      additional $9 million. This is another slide that points out the same thing over past
      couple of years regarding our taxes. We picked up $1.4 million in 2009, $2.5 million in
      2017, and $5.9 million in 2019. The note at the bottom says we have $51 million in
      available bank cap available to balance our budget in future years. At that meeting we
      talked about what our typical cost drivers are. We've all heard them before – employee
      salaries and benefits, instruction and program, charter schools, transportation, legal,
      substitutes, security, and special education. This is the fund balance that I gave you
      back in November. We had talked about our appropriations for the year at $520 million.
      Revenues are $513 million. In our February report these numbers are going to change.
      The $5.1 million came in, so we have to match the appropriations to the $5.1 million. I
      would also say that we talked about some of the things we did currently regarding our
      current and next year's budget. We've implemented a regulation rationale form. We
      are also having mid-year budget reviews. We're going to sit down with all department
      heads to go through their midyear budget reviews and going through their 2020-2021
      budgets. We're literally going to go line by line just listening, learning, and
      understanding what's behind the scenes in everybody's department, what's happening
      with their budget, what's working and not working so that we can come up with a better
      solution to the whole budgeting process. We've never truly gone line by line. We've
      blocked out January 6-17. We have one or two meetings per day for two to three hours.
      We're going to cover the entire district regarding central office. We're going to go
      through their position control roster to see what they have as far as vacancies and
      positions that are not being filled. This is the first time we've ever done this, but this is
      going to happen January 6-17. I think the State was very receptive to hearing what we
      were trying to do regarding our current fiscal crisis for this year and for the 2020-2021
      budget season. T

  • HankMorgan

    Why bother asking Shafer? Here’s what she’ll be spending the money on: Connected consulting firms, administrative positions for friends and bonuses for herself.

    • MarquinhoGaucho

      Dont forget the Charters while the public schools get bupkis. They should have summer school for the record # of kids who are failing but that means less money for the charters

      • HankMorgan

        Exactly. Just imagine the thousands of Paterson students who have completely lost this entire year of schooling.

        • MarquinhoGaucho

          Make them pay $100 each for summer school

  • Paterson Resident

    Central office is way too top heavy. Too many jobs are created for people who does not have any job description. Cut 20% of central office.

  • Paterson Resident

    Stop giving freaking tax breaks to big businesses and tax them heavy.