Sat, May 14, 2022 7:00 AM
By Alice E. Gerard
Voting on the Grand Island Central School District‘s 2022-23 proposed budget, along with the election of two trustees from among four nominees, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday, May 17.
This article summarizes the contents of the budget, as well as the proposed tax levy, and what could happen if the budget is rejected by voters.
The recommended proposed budget for the 2022-2023 school year is $70,206,688. This consists of $6,126,773, or 9%, for administration; $49,924,259, or 71%, for the program; and $14,155,636, or 20%, for capital.
There are 2,800 students in the Grand Island Central School District and a total of 506 employees.
Where does the money come from?
Local property tax: The Grand Island Central School District receives $38,318,340 from its property tax. From last year to this year, that’s an increase of $2,029,278, which ends up being 5.59%.
State aid is changing: New York State’s proposed foundation aid has been reduced by $97,000, from a planned January aid of $13,437,056 to $13,339,120.
How does the school system react to the reduction in aid to foundations?
According to Dr. Rubie Harris, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance, “We had to make some adjustments to the budget to account for the slight decrease in foundation assistance, but it didn’t take anything away from student programs. . There have been minor cuts in several areas of spending, but nothing that impedes student learning or academic achievement. We also have the American Rescue funds, so anything that has been taken out for student needs will certainly be clawed back into that funding source.
About Foundation Aid: According to Harris, “We haven’t been fully funded yet in the area of foundation aid. This has been a hot topic for many, many years. Last year for the ’21-’22 budget, the state said that over the next three years ’21-’22, ’22-’23 and ’23-’24 they would gradually inject the funds to bring us to be fully funded under the foundation’s aid formula. We don’t get any of our funds back which we shorted for over 10 years. »
For universal pre-kindergarten, the school district was given 20 additional slots, with a total of 110 full-day slots to be filled. UPK classrooms will be offered at Sidway Elementary School, as well as approved providers under contract with the school district: KinderKiddz, Care A Lot Child Care Center Inc., St. Timothy Lutheran Child Care and St. Stephen School. The aid amount for UPK is $586,023, an increase of $108,000 from the January forecast of $478,023.
Total state aid: $24,057,636, an increase of $17,531 from the January forecast of $24,040,095.
Why 5.59%, when the tax ceiling is 2%?
“The tax cap formula is a 12-part formula. There are 12 areas where information should be provided to help you calculate the end result of what you are allowed to collect or what you can offer to collect while staying within the tax cap guidelines said Harris. “I think the most important thing for voters to understand is that although it has been called a 2% tax cap, the 2% number is part of the 12 part formula, it does not mean that the levy will only increase by 2%. The 5.59% request is within the school district’s allowable drawdown limit. »
Actual tax levy:
The estimated tax rate per $1,000 is $17.10. For a $180,000 home, with a base STAR assessment reduction, the increase over last year’s tax is $153.93. The estimated base savings from the STAR exemption is $518.
A large part of the budget is “carried over”. This would include:
• Academic programs offered to students, as well as sports and extracurricular programs
• Salaries for all staff, including substitute teachers and building-based contractors.
• ERS (employee pension scheme) and TRS (teacher pension scheme) payments
• FICA payments
• Debt servicing
• Utility payments for all buildings owned by the school district
Proposed Budget Changes:
Proposed new employees:
• An ENL (English as a New Language) teacher to keep up with the growing number of students who need these services.
• A social worker to help children with the social and emotional aspects of managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
• A full-time speech therapy teacher (1.0). This service was previously provided by BOCES. Bringing it in-house, Harris said, will save the school district $39,000.
• A primary school teacher, due to expected class size and enrolment.
•The elementary orchestra teacher is part-time (.6). The proposal is to turn this into a full-time position (position 1.0).
•A slight increase for athletics. Currently, Jon Roth, who is retired, works as a part-time athletic director for the school district. The school district, Harris said, is looking ahead, to the possibility of what the position would cost upon full retirement.
•Slight increase at the National Academy of Finance, a mathematics academy.
“We have a lot of students who have signed up for the program, so as the program grows, the needs of the program increase,” Harris said.
•“A transfer to catering, which is part of our five-year financial plan for catering. This is to deal with the debt that still weighs on the food services program. So slowly but surely we tried to deal with it,” Harris explained.
What happens in the budget that is rejected?
“If the budget doesn’t pass, school districts have two options,” Harris said. “You can go out for a second vote or you go with a contingent budget.”
A contingent budget, under state law, mandates a 0% tax increase.
“To go with a contingent budget, we have to withdraw $2,029,278. It’s a huge amount,” Harris said. “There is no way to take $2 million out without affecting students’ curricular and after-school programs. If we have to take $2,029,278 out of the budget, every child loses almost $1,000 from an element of their education.