By MADDY VITALE
Sea Isle City’s Board of Education introduced a budget Monday for the 2023-2024 school year that keeps the tax rate stable for the 12th straight year.
The budget will be up for final approval by the school board in June.
School Board President Dan Tumolo said in an interview Friday that being able to offer property owners another year without an increase in school taxes is proof of fiscal responsibility.
“The district is always focused on the kids and also the finances,” Tumolo said. “We made a promise when we took over the school board that we would stress financial management, and that is what we did. It has paid off. It is an accomplishment.”
The total budget is roughly $2.6 million, with the bulk of the spending going toward tuition and transportation costs for Sea Isle students who attend other school districts, mainly Ocean City.
Sea Isle’s school closed in 2012 due to declining student enrollment and has recently been demolished to make way for Sea Isle’s proposed $20 million community recreation center.
Transportation costs to send students to other school districts for the upcoming year are anticipated to be $573,000, up from $499,000 last year, Tumolo said.
Some money also goes toward insurance and administrative costs.
The board was able to keep the tax rate flat in its proposed budget by using some of its surplus, Tumolo said.
The amount of school taxes a Sea Isle property owner would have to pay annually for an average home assessed at $746,000 was not immediately available for the 2023-2024 budget.
During the 2022-2023 school year, homeowners paid only slightly more than the $278 in annual school taxes in the 2021-2022 school budget for an average home assessed at $711,000.
Some things the school board had to make adjustments for were declining student enrollment and a decrease in state aid, from $194,000 last year to $177,000 this year, Tumolo said.
“The enrollment is down,” he said, adding that there are 80 Sea Isle students who attend school in Ocean City and other sending districts.
That number is down from last year’s figure of 98 Sea Isle students, he noted.
“There were people pulling their kids out of the school and sending them to other districts. Basically, we lost 18 kids, compared to last year,” Tumolo said.
Tumolo explained that much of that had to do with how the Ocean City school district handled the hybrid model for attending school during the height of the pandemic.
There were remote and in-person days and the students were put in different groups so that not everyone was in school at one given time to account for social distancing.
“There was a big battle about the kids being in school all day, versus remote,” he said.