Tuesday, March 25, 2008

School Budget Hearing Tonight

The Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. tonight (March 25, 2008) in the Plainfield High School library for a public hearing on the 2008-09 school budget.

For the first time since 1992, the local school tax levy will increase. Voters on April 15 will be asked to approve a levy of $18,391,262, a 4 percent increase. But even if voters don’t approve it, the increased tax levy will stand, because the state is requiring it as a first step toward meeting a fair share of the property tax burden to support schools. Plainfield previously only contributed $17.7 million, with outside aid making up 80 percent of the budget.

Despite a 2 percent increase in state aid for 2008-09, the district will face a $5 million shortfall that will require staff reductions. Those affected will be notified by May 14.

In coming years, state aid will be flat and the district may have to make further adjustments. One change suggested by Interim Superintendent Garnell Bailey was to eliminate very small classes and aim for class sizes of 18 for kindergarten and 24 to 28 in upper grades.

On April 15, voters will also choose three people from five candidates for three-year terms. Those running are incumbents Bridget Rivers, Vickey Sheppard and Agurs Linward “Lenny” Cathcart Jr. and newcomers Jaclynne Callands and Yolanda VanFleet.

--Bernice Paglia


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