At the last few board meeting Patrick Witherow, Director of Business, Finance and Transportation for the Marlboro School District, has continued to refine the 2019-20 budget for the school board’s consideration.
Witherow gave the board a look at a roll over budget.
“That would essentially take everything that we’re doing at the end of June and continue to do it at the beginning of September, with no changes to staff and programs, just basically rolling through and continuing everything we’ve been doing this year,” he said. “That’s kind of our base starting point and then we’ll have some discussion on possible program enhancements or any kind of additions or reductions in budgetary expenditures as we go forward.”
Witherow stressed that, “these numbers are all still fluid, so the numbers we see today we continue to evaluate the data and new information that comes into us, we adapt or will incorporate in future presentations. But this should give us some good ballpark estimates going into the budget season.”
The district’s preliminary tax cap levy calculation for 2019-20 stands at approximately a 2.32% increase from last year, which translates to an allowable monetary raise of $786,919 in the levy going into next year. This would require a simple majority vote by the public in order to pass.
Witherow highlighted the areas of increased costs the district will see from this year going into next: $421,000 in salaries and payroll, including FICA, Social Security and additional contractual requirements related to employee liabilities; $160,000 in health insurance costs; $5,000 in transportation and $390,000 in BOCES services, which includes costs for Special Education programs and Health and Safety services. There are two areas where the district will realize reductions in expenses, $310,000 in ERS/TRS/and FICA and a $39,000 drop in Debt Service due to previous refinancing measures.
Witherow pointed out that the adopted budget for the 2018-19 school year was $56,888,880 and he is estimating that the 2019-20 school year will increase by $660,377 to a total of $57,549,257, a 1.16% increase.
“The good news is our anticipated increase in aid exceeds our anticipated rollover costs of normal budgetary operations,” he said.
Witherow said the district is still waiting for approval of the Smart School Bond Act.
“That has about $1 million of associated expenses with the obvious revenue associated with that to offset those expenses,” he said.
Witherow said the district is also hoping to receive the final state aid numbers.
“Right now the Governor’s proposal that came out in January, compared to what we budgeted for this current year, we see about a $51,000 decrease overall in the aid package but we normally see more favorable numbers come from the Legislative proposal and the proposal that winds up in the ultimate package,” he said.
Witherow said the district will see savings when they hire new teachers at lower salaries who will be replacing higher paid teachers who have submitted their notices of retirement.
Superintendent Michael Brooks promised that for 2019-20 the district, “will do our best to limit substantially any new programs that we’re going to offer, however we don’t want to stop our trajectory of continuing to improve offerings that we have for children.”
Brooks said the district will balance these two goals by proposing the addition of part-time positions and by increasing two current part-time teachers, “and only have minimal expense for those additional salaries.”
Brooks suggested a .2 speech position [1 period of additional teaching] with an accompanying $10,000 increase; a .2 increase in Social Studies that will make the district’s current .8 teacher into a full time position. Brooks noted that the course of study for this single period increase will be for a Sports and Entertainment Marketing elective that is presently being developed.
Brooks suggested a long distance opportunity [camera and video screen] for learning Mandarin Chinese through Orange/Ulster BOCES, estimated at $25,000. It would begin at the Middle School level, “and this would grow as the years go on so the children can move through year to year to year to get their World Language credit.
Brooks is also recommending adding $8,000 to next year’s budget to be used for starting more clubs and after school activities for the students.
Brooks summed up where the district is currently in the development of the 2019-20 school budget.
“This really encompasses the full package of what we would like to bring forward for the board’s consideration over the next few meetings,” he said. “We are absolutely open if there are other areas the board would like us to explore. We are trying to be as mindful as we can, looking at the Visions 2020 project in capital work [upgrades/maintenance] that we want to be very careful of the package we put forth as far as money and taxpayers needs and balancing those up against making sure we have student facing programs and student facing initiatives in our bond project.”
Brooks said as part of these proposals, the district is also reviewing all existing positions, “to make sure that every one of those provides full value for the dollar and if there’s anything we can do differently with existing positions, we are absolutely doing that...If there is a position we decide that we don’t need, we don’t fill it; this board is aware of that and backs that perspective. At the same time we make sure that we provide the right services we need to for children.”