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Summit Public Schools

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General Info/ FAQs


Who does the Summit School District partner with to share costs?

* Partnerships with Other School Districts:

  • Morris Union Jointure: Transportation and special education related services
  • Union County Education Services Commission: Transportation and special education related services
  • Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission, Lebanon, NJ (new 2017)
  • Garden State Coalition of Schools: Joint lobbying effort at the state level with other suburban school districts
  • ACES: Join together with other school districts in purchase of energy since 2008; however, only Electric since December 2016 when the district went to direct Bid for Gas through ENERNOC at 0.06835 per Kwh compared to ACES Existing Bid 0.08350 saving the district approx. $200,000 over a 3 year period.
  • Diploma Joint Insurance Fund: Property and Casualty and Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Educational Data Services: Purchase consortium on general supplies, and physical education, art and music supplies
  • ESC of NJ (formerly Middlesex Educational Regional Services Commission [MERSC]: Purchase consortium on equipment, supplies and services
  • National Purchasing Consortiums (various) including Government Service Administration
  • ERATE: Telecommunications and technology discounts

* Continued expansion of National consortiums and purchasing  to include:  

  • Educational Services Commission of NJ (ESCNJ)
  • TCPN (The Cooperative Purchasing Network), Houston, TX
  • GSA.GOV (United States General Services Administration), Washington, DC
  • PEPPM Technology Bidding & Purchasing Program, Milton, PA
  • US Communities, Gaithersburg, MD
  • NASPO Value Point Cooperative Purchasing Organization
  • National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA), Staples, MN
  • The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS), Pittsburg, TX 

* Additionally, Mr. Pepe holds a NJ Qualified Purchasing Agent License that authorizes the district to purchase up to $40,000.00 vs. the $29,000.00 limit prior to going to bid.  

* Partnerships with Higher Education Institutions:

  • Seton Hall University: After-school tutoring program in the middle school
  • Columbia University Teachers College: Professional development for teachers in the area of reading
  • Drew University: Internship to help with policy development

* Partnerships with Local and Regional Non-profit Agencies:

  • Connection for Women and Children: After-school programs in four elementary schools
  • Boys Club/Girls Club and YMCA: Middle school-after school program

* Partnerships with Summit City Government Agencies:

  • Summit Police Department: Security reviews, DARE program and safety programs
  • Joint Committee on Field Maintenance: Collects user fees to enhance maintenance budget

* Major Local Fundraising and Substantial Contributions Are Made To the Schools:

  • Summit Educational Foundation- Through continued generosity and support the SEF funded over $760,000 in 2014-15 school year with fall and spring grants.Throughout SEF’s 20-year history, the organization has contributed over $4.9 million in grant money supporting thousands of innovative initiatives, programs and educational tools (equipment and supplies) throughout the district.
  • PTA/PTOs- landscaping, playgrounds, cultural art, after school enrichment programs, annual contribution to the district technology fund,  tutoring program, parent buddy and English language tutoring programs
  • SPARC Music Parents Association
  • Summit Boosters Summit Junior League grants

* In addition, the Board of Education recently increased user fees for organizations that also use the school facilities, thereby resulting in enhanced cost sharing.


Budget Terms

What does “cap” mean?
It is spending authority –the ability to  raise taxes in future budgets beyond 2%. State law places a limitation on the amount by which a school district may increase its budget yearly. This increase is known as the cap as compared to “waiver," which permits additional increases in the budget in excess of the cap as described below. Under the current legislation, school districts are permitted to increase the tax levy amount by 2%. Therefore, for the 2019-2020 school year, the permitted increase to the tax levy beyond the 2% is $383,158 for a total General Fund budget of $65.6M representative of a total fiscal year increase of 2.599%. 

What are adjustments that allow a budget to go over 2%?
Under current law, (Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-38 and 39), local and regional districts (regular districts) are permitted an increase in their general fund tax levy that exceeds their tax levy growth limitation (2%) calculated as the pre-budget year adjusted general fund tax levy with adjustments for increases in enrollment multiplied by two percent, plus adjustments for an increase in budgeted health care costs, plus an increase in normal and accrued pension liability costs (deferred pension), and plus or minus adjustments for responsibility shifted from/to another entity.
What is “banked cap”?
N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-39(e) permits districts to bank the difference between the maximum allowable amount to be raised by taxation for the current school budget year and the actual amount raised by taxation for the current school budget year. This banked cap amount may be used to increase the district tax levy cap in any of the next three budget years. (e.g. Cap not utilized in the 2019-20 budget year will be available to be carried into fiscal years 2020-21 through 2021-22).
What is “surplus” or “fund balance”?
Surplus, sometimes referred to as “fund balance,” is the amount, which a district keeps in reserve from one year to the next to cover extraordinary, unexpected costs that arise during the school year.  Prior to S1701 (signed into law July 7, 2004), districts were permitted to maintain fund balance [surplus] up to 6% to cover such unanticipated and unbudgeted costs.  Current law permits the district to maintain a fund balance of only 2% (approximately $1.3 million of our current 2019 –2020 budget).  
Summit is a Type 1 District. What does that mean?
State education law permits districts to organize as Type 1 or Type 2 districts. While Board of Education members are elected in Type 2 districts, the mayor in Type 1 districts appoints Board of Education members. In 97% of Type 2 districts, voting on the school budget via a public referendum is no longer required as long as the budget does not exceed the 2% cap. Budgets in a Type 1 district are still voted upon by a Board of School Estimate.
What is the Board of School Estimate (BOSE)?
As a Type 1 district, our Board of School Estimate is made up of three city elected officials and two appointed members of the School Board as follows:

  • Mayor
  • 2 City Council Members
  • 2 Board of Education Members

This body governs all decisions and approvals necessary with respect to the annual operating budget for the school district and insurance of debt for facility projects covered under Fund 30 Capital Projects Fund.

Budget and Tax Levy Data

What was our budget for each of the previous school years, and by what percentage did the budget increase year over year?

NOTE:  2013-2014 Budgeted Figure Reported in State User Friendly Budget included a withdrawal of Capital Reserve in the amount of $1,836,120 therefore reflecting a total budget figure of $65,913,363.
How much of our budget is funded by local property taxes, compared with the state average?
93% of our school budget is funded by local property taxes. The state average is 55.4%. School funding continues to be state and local oriented. In 2016–17, 47.0 percent of public school revenue came from state funds, whereas 47.1 percent came from state funds in 2017–18. Local funds contributed similar percentages in both 2016‒17 (45.1%) and 2017‒18 (45.4%). In those two years, federal funds constituted 7.9 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively, of K‒12 education revenue. (National Education Association, Rankings of the States 2018 and Estimates of School Statistics 2019) The national average is 45.1%.
How much of our budget is covered by state aid?
Statewide, New Jersey funds 40.4% 32.6% (up 7.8% from 2014-15) of total education spending compared with a national average of 45.1%.(National Education Association, Rankings of the States 2018 and Estimates of School Statistics 2019).  

How much of Summit’s budget is covered by federal aid?
Federal aid does not affect the district's general fund budget. Federal aid is applied to federally imposed programs such as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  It is the main federal law for K–12 general education. It covers all students in public schools. When it was passed in 2015, ESSA replaced the controversial No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Additionally we have IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).


Budget Drivers

What is Summit’s median faculty salary compared with the state average?
Summit’s median faculty salary is $63,781, compared with the state median of $64,423; and an average of the median salary reported for similar K-12 / 3501 + districts of $76,044.  (Department of Education Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending)

What are the Summit Schools’ current health care costs and what has the district done to contain costs?
Summit’s current net health care costs are $9,350,224 per year for the forecasted 2019-2020 school year, after employee contribution of more than $2.4M.
The Board of Education has been working to control these costs through negotiation strategies that include:
·       Employee contributions towards health care premiums
·       Increase in Co-Pays
·       Opt out provision for employees that have dual coverage; and
·       Continuing to check the market for the best value on renewals

Additionally in 2017-18 we have moved from CIGNA to Aetna in order to retain high quality coverage at better premiums saving both the district and employees in annual renewals.  As a result we enjoyed a 0% increase in the 2017/18 year.  We continue to renew below 10% and 5% respectively for the FY 19 and FY 20 years.

What are the Summit Schools’ current utility costs and what has the district done to minimize these costs?
Summit’s current utility costs are $542,864 per year.  This is a significant decrease from five years ago when the cost of gas and electric, combined was $918,784.  The reason for this sharp decline (a 40% savings) is attributed to reduction in usage through replacement of boilers district-wide with High Energy Efficient models as part of the Regular Operating Districts Grant Program (RODS).  Additionally, we continue to bid for bundled services with other districts statewide in the Alliance for Competitive Energy Savings (ACES). 
ACES is an energy-purchasing program formed in 1999 by NJSBA, the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO), and the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA).  Its primary purpose is to save money for New Jersey’s public schools, by lowering the electric generation service portion and gas of their monthly bills. 
Summit is one of more than 400 New Jersey school districts, which achieves reductions in the cost associated with purchasing our electric supply as a result of a successful search for less-costly electric generation. 
What is Summit’s current total cost per pupil compared with the state average?
Summit’s current cost per pupil is $15,458. Compare that with the state average of $15,995 per pupil; and an average reported for similar K-12 / 3501 + districts of $15,782. 
(Department of Education Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending)
What is Summit’s administrative cost per pupil compared with the state average?
Summit’s current administrative cost per pupil is reported as $1,643.  Compare that with the state average of $1,726 per pupil; and an average reported for similar K-12 / 3501 + districts of $1,619. 
 (Department of Education Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending)