The Sparta Township Public Schools’ 2021-22 budget calls for a 2 percent tax levy increase but results in a tax decrease for the township’s average taxpayer.
The $69.5 million budget, unanimously adopted on April 29, carries a tax levy of $61.1 million, a 2 percent increase over 2020-21. The district also will receive $5.7 million in state aid, a $217,000 decrease from last year.
The district’s expenditures also rose, with a 2.47 increase in salary and a 4.9 percent increase in health benefits. There have been decreases in facilities and transportation, and a 3 percent increase special education instruction.
The district also refinanced its debt for a savings of about $417,000. Interim Superintendent Patrick McQueeney said the average home in Sparta Township, valued at $369,900, will see a $15.97 decrease in its tax bill.
Finance committee chair Robert Zywicki said the budget not only maintains the district’s staffing levels, but also adds staff.
“Everyone on this board should be very proud of this budget,” he said. “It’s a sign of how things are changing and how we’re moving forward, especially in a year when we’re in the pandemic.”
McQueeney said the district made a large investment of $300,000 in its Response to Intervention (RTI) program, which helps struggling students, and in its Extended Learning programs. The district added a supervisor of district wellness clinician, a full-time speech therapist, and a full-time English as a second language (ESL) teacher.
It also focuses on facilities and infrastructure, including the continuation of HVAC replacement at the Alpine and Helen Morgan schools. A playground installation at Mohawk Avenue school is expected this summer.
The high school gym will get new bleachers and wall pads, and the main gym will get a refinishing. The tennis courts are to be resurfaced. The budget also includes some repaving, new flooring, and new exteriors.
“The budget is balanced with a heavy investment in curriculum and instruction and maintaining the great facilities that we have here in Sparta,” McQueeney said.
“Everyone on this board should be very proud of this budget. It’s a sign of how things are changing and how we’re moving forward, especially in a year when we’re in the pandemic.” Robert Zywicki