Bound Brook School District’s tentative budget to expand programs and decrease taxes

The Bound Brook School District is proud to present for the second year in a row a tentative budget that decreases taxes for residents, while also expanding educational programs and support services to improve outcomes for students in the pre-K to grade 12 district.  

The tentative budget for the 2024-25 school year follows a perfect financial audit in which examiners found that the district is in full compliance and resolved all prior recommendations from the 2022-23 school year. 

The $49.6 million operating budget for the 2024-25 school year aims to improve student performance and outcomes by expanding curriculum and staffing, especially in the areas of summer and after-school enrichment, elementary school gifted and talented programs, English as a Second Language (ESL), Math, and English Language Arts (ELA). 

“Our students and staff here in Bound Brook School District are exceptional,” said Bound Brook Superintendent Alvin L. Freeman, Ed.D. “The leadership team worked closely with the Board of Education to present a tentative budget that continues to support our staff by providing additional tools and training opportunities and enhances the educational offerings for our students.” 

The tentative budget was adopted in March, and a public hearing and vote on the final budget will be held on May 22 at the Board of Education meeting. 

Highlights of the 2024-25 budget include: 

  • Enhancing curriculum and programming across all grade levels to improve student performance and implement the new 2023 New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Math and ELA.  
  • Expanding summer and school-wide enrichment opportunities for all students. 
  • Investing in Bilingual/ESL and early childhood academic coaching and professional development for teachers. 
  • Hiring additional staff, including high school ELA and Math academic interventionists, elementary school gifted and talented teachers, instructional coaching and resource support staff, and a school psychologist.  
  • Purchasing new and updated textbooks, technology, online programs, and other materials to benefit student learning. 
  • Investing in capital projects at each of the district’s schools to protect and maintain the community’s investment in facilities. Projects include bathroom renovations at the high school, bleachers and scoreboards at Community Middle School, new signage and gates at Lafayette, a new instructional copier at Smalley, and iPads and interactive boards at LaMonte/LaMonte Annex. 
  • Covering increasing costs for special education transportation. 
  • Expanding Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses to include unmanned drone flight, mechanical engineering technology, and EMT/firefighter program.   

The budget comes in under the 2% tax levy cap allowed by the state and balances the expansion of programs and student services with a school tax decrease for residents in Bound Brook. The 2024-25 General Fund Tax Levy would increase by $294,910, however the school tax rate would decrease to 1.165%. The owner of a home assessed at the average of $418,501 can expect to see an approximate tax decrease of $140 per year.   

The tax decrease was possible because of an increase in ratables in Bound Brook, additional funding due to growing student enrollment, and a 16% increase in state aid from last year. For the first time since 2008-2009, the district received the appropriate level of funding prescribed by the current school funding formula for equalization aid. 

“We want to thank Gov. Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Department of Education, and the Somerset County Department of Education for bringing the district the funding it deserves and was promised,” Freeman said. 

Business Administrator/Board Secretary Michael C. Gorski, CPA added that Bound Brook was historically one of the most underfunded districts in the state.  

“Our teachers have worked tirelessly to meet the diverse needs of our student population, despite the limited resources stemming from previous deficits in funding,” Freeman said. “We are excited now that additional resources can be directed into the classroom, enabling us to provide the level of instruction that the school funding formula was designed to support.” 

Even amid inflation, the district was able to find cost savings for taxpayers through a variety of shared service agreements for transportation, special education, food services, recycling, law enforcement, insurance, and more. 

“I want to thank Dr. Freeman and the Board of Education for their commitment to funding programs and services aimed at improving student performance and providing the best learning environment possible,” Gorski said. “I am also proud of their support and guidance to eliminate all prior year recommendations from the auditor and have a clean, unblemished financial audit for the 2022-23 school year.”