Sparta schools' math

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    SPARTA-For the past two years, the Sparta School District has been trying to convince the community of the need for a new school. In the past, residents have voted down plans for a new facility because, many believe, the schools are already receiving and spending too much of the area's tax dollars. Numbers released recently by the state paint a different picture. In fact, the numbers place the Sparta district on the conservative side when it comes to spending. According to the state's statistics, Spartans pay 62.3 percent of their total taxes to education. A comparative study done by the New Jersey Department of Education of 89 municipalities on the same socio-economic scale as Sparta, found that two-thirds of those towns actually paid higher percentages of their property taxes for the same year. Residents in Old Tappan and Chester, for example, paid 75 and 70 percent of their taxes to their respective districts. Both communities are grouped in the same category as Sparta by the state's department of education. "Taxes are a big issue, but it's more than money," said Dr. Thomas Morton, superintendent of Sparta schools, during a recent interview, explaining that the main issue facing the community is the effect overcrowding is having on the education of the district's students. "It's about where do we put these students when the classrooms are already so overcrowded." The study, an annual review of all of the school districts in the state, also shows that Sparta spends less per student than the statewide average. When it comes to cost-per-student, Sparta ranks 75 out of 103 districts with the same enrollment size. With a cost of $9,156 per student, Sparta is also below the state average of $10,621. "Sparta does a great job to make everything available to students on the budget we have," said Morton.