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Boonton Township Board of Education Faces Legal Battle Over Proposed 7.25% Tuition Rate Increase

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BOONTON TOWNSHIP — On November 28, 2023, the Mountain Lakes Board of Education commenced litigation against the Boonton Township Board of Education seeking to increase the current high school tuition rate by more than $1,300; a 7.25% increase over the current $17,987 per student tuition rate (2022-2023). Mountain Lakes BOE’s unilateral attempt to precipitously increase the tuition rate is alarming given the fact that Boonton Twp. BOE sends 192 high school students per year and presently pays Mountain Lakes BOE a total of $3,453,504 per school year. In fact, Mountain Lakes BOE’s proposed tuition hike will result in an additional $250,000 for the 2023-2024 school year’ which far exceeds the amount of money that the Boonton Twp. BOE can legally raise from its taxpayers.

Boonton Twp. BOE and Mountain Lakes BOE have previously entered into a series of long-term tuition agreements over the last two decades and have historically agreed to increase the annual tuition by 2%; an increase that directly correlates to the 2% annual tax increase limitation. In an attempt at good-faith negotiations, Boonton Twp. BOE presented a counter-proposal of increasing the 2023-2024 tuition from $17,987 to $18,521 per student. This represents a 3% increase and will result in Boonton Twp. BOE paying an additional $102,528, resulting in a total payment of $3,556,032 for the 2023-2024 school year. Mountain Lakes BOE summarily rejected this counter-proposal and remains steadfast in its unrealistic quest for a 7.25% tuition rate increase for the 2023-2024 school year and a 2.5% increase or the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) rate (whichever is greater) for each subsequent school year. Mountain Lakes BOE’s proposed tuition increases are unsustainable for the 2023-2024 school year and every year thereafter as they all exceed the statutory annual 2% property tax restriction. In a word, Boonton Twp. BOE and its taxpayers will never be able to afford these proposed tuition increases and have no statutory mechanism to do so.

Mountain Lakes BOE has yet to articulate the real reason for its need to seek such an unrealistic increase. Boonton Township and Mountain Lakes taxpayers should demand that the Mountain Lakes BOE engage in real, good-faith negotiations instead of pursuing this misguided litigation that threatens to jeopardize the parties’ long-standing contractual relationship which could adversely impact both the taxpayers of Boonton Township and Mountain Lakes. Boonton Twp. BOE will be forced to explore all options and alternatives in the best interest of both our students and taxpayers.

The next Mountain Lakes BOE meeting is scheduled for January 4, 2024. Both Boonton Township and Mountain Lakes residents are encouraged to attend to let the Mountain Lakes BOE know how they feel regarding this critical issue.

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, Lt. Governor of Division 9 Kiwanis Club of NJ, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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