Home Latest Stories O.C. School Budget Includes No Tax Increase

O.C. School Budget Includes No Tax Increase

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School board members listen to the budget presentation.

By MADDY VITALE

The Ocean City Board of Education has adopted the budget for the 2023-24 school year, keeping the school tax rate stable while offering new classes and expanded programs.

The total budget is $45.2 million, up from $44.3 million for the 2022-23 school year.

The bulk of the funding for the spending plan would come from $24.9 million in tax revenue, up from $24.4 million in local tax revenue the year before.

School Business Administrator Tim Kelley said during his presentation at the Board of Education meeting Thursday night that the increase in the spending plan of roughly $500,000 will not change the school tax rate.

Using the model of an Ocean City house assessed at $500,000, homeowners would pay the same as they do now for their annual school tax bill of $995, Kelley said.

“This is the culmination of our budget process. We had a detailed presentation last year in March,” Kelley said of the budget’s introduction at the March school board meeting. “There are no substantial changes to the budget as far as it went through county review. This is the first year, I am happy to say, that there were no questions. It was approved.”

Despite a slight decrease in the school district’s student enrollment and increasing costs for employee health benefits, the budget will not have an increase in the tax rate.

According to the budget, out-of-district tuition revenue will total $555,571 in 2023-24, compared to $613,580 in 2022-23. The sending districts include Upper Township, Sea Isle City, Longport and Corbin City.

One of the major differences in the budget, however, involves capital outlay for projects.

That is the most significant change in the spending plan, Kelley noted. Playground resurfacing at the primary school and a new audio system at the high school are the main reasons the outlay portion of the budget doubled from $690,000 to $1.2 million, Kelley said.

During a presentation, Kelley highlighted 10 key items in the upcoming school budget. Among them are plans for new courses, more coaches for sports and a shared services agreement with the city to improve school security.

The budget includes funding for more coaches for the district’s sports program.

Some of the new items are as follows:

  • Increasing opportunities for blended and personalized learning and dual and/or concurrent credit through newly formed programs with local colleges.
  • Expanding high school course offerings, including new classes in Esports, family and consumer science, digital art, Spanish for Heritage Speakers, and a course for data science.
  • Enhancing instructional offerings with new textbooks, materials and resources.
  • Supporting co/extracurricular teams and activities with additional coaching positions
  • Continue to improve on technology.
  • Improving school security.
  • An update to the American Sign Language curricula at the high school.

At the end of the presentation, members of the school board and the audience had the opportunity to address Kelley.

“Thank you for your presentation and your diligence in putting all those figures together,” Board member Robin Shaffer said.

He asked how many students are projected for the upcoming year.

Kelley said there were roughly 1,900 students, a slight decrease from last year.

Later in the meeting, school board members commended Kelley for a job well done.

“Thank you for the budget and for presenting it so that we understand it,” School board member Fran Newman said.

Kelley responded, “Thank you. It was a team effort.”

The assessed valuation for the city went from about $12.3 billion in the 2022-23 school year to nearly $12.6 billion for the 2023-24 budget year. In addition to higher ratables in the community that help to offset shortfalls in the school budget, the district learned recently that it would be receiving state aid.

Ocean City is receiving an increase of $198,146 in state aid. In total, Ocean City will receive $4,529,295 in state aid, a 4.6 percent increase over last year.

The majority of the increase in state aid for Ocean City is attributable to School Choice aid.

The School Choice program has increased by $175,764 over the prior year. The remainder of the state aid increase was attributable to special education aid of just over $22,000.

In total, Kelley explained that the state aid for the School Choice program is anticipated to be $2,938,906, and general state aid for Ocean City is anticipated to be $1,590,489.

The budget includes funding for the playground at the primary school to be resurfaced.