For the first time in many years the residents of Robbinsville will see very little increase in their upcoming tax bill.

On March 11, the Board of Education approved its tentative budget which maintains student programs and accommodates costs related to the construction project at Sharon Elementary School as well as those associated with district wide enrollment growth. The impact of the 2015-16 budget will result in a half-cent increase to the tax levy. This translates to an annual increase of $17 for the average home valued at $370,000.

We are very pleased to be in a position this year to continue to fund school programs without asking too much more of our taxpayers. As we developed the budget, we worked diligently to accomplish the twin goals of maintaining the type of excellent programs that have come to define Robbinsville Schools and of keeping the tax rate flat.

The proposed budget maintains the current level of programming and designates a few dollars to offer extra sections of certain classes at Robbinsville High School, where enrollment will increase most significantly. It does not appropriate funds to add new programs or for new teaching faculty to reduce class size at the K-8 level.

However, rearranging the bell schedule and reconfiguring how teachers are teamed at the middle school will enable us to expand Spanish instruction to include sixth grade beginning in September.

In addition, we are cultivating a partnership with Mercer County Community College that permits us to offer communications and criminal justice electives to high school students. It is important to note that we continuously seek alternatives to adding staff as we strive to improve offerings for students.

As stewards of tax dollars, the Board of Education employs a multi-year planning approach that leverages shared services, alternate revenue sources and repayment of debt to keep the tax levy down. In September, the Board is preparing to launch KindeRville, a tuition based Kindergarten program for non-residents designed to offer a premiere full-day educational opportunity to neighboring communities and generate additional revenue. As we continue to grow, we will remain committed to developing good strategies for creating revenue and providing top notch programs to our students.

I am deeply gratified by the shared sense of responsibility among our Board of Education members. I am proud of the contribution and insight each individual has brought to the budget process. Each member has committed to maintaining strong programs while paying close attention to the impact of the budget on local taxes. I am equally pleased that we are developing a strong partnership with local elected officials for we are at our best when we all work toward common goals.

Steve Mayer is superintendent of Robbinsville Schools.