At the Pine Bush Central School District Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Michael Pacella, assistant superintendent for business, presented next year’s rollover budget, which is a 2.46 percent increase over the current year’s.
The 2020-2021 Approved Budget is $121,587,157, whereas the 2021-2022 Rollover Budget is $124,579,278.
The rollover budget is the current year’s programs calculated into next year’s dollars. Since this is a very preliminary look at next year’s cost for programs, the rollover budget gives best guess estimates, as some factors are not known at this point in the district’s budget building phase.
The rollover budget that was presented included costs of programs that were approved for the current year and assumed that the district will operate 2021-2022 at full capacity. The district is reviewing additional programs to be recommended for the final budget that will address lost education this year caused by the pandemic.
Nearly half of next year’s rollover budget goes toward employee salaries, while an additional $29,531,237 (23.7 percent) of the budget covers their benefits. The contractual budget made up 11.25 percent of the overall budget ($14,007,964). A considerable portion of the budget (10.61 percent) went to BOCES. The BOCES budget deals with the district’s tuition for its special education programs as well as other programs they purchase from Orange-Ulster BOCES. Debt consisted of nearly 4 percent of the budget, while staples of education such as textbooks, software, materials and supplies as well as equipment each accounted for less than one percent of the budget.
Pacella also added that the district expects a reduction in State Aid for the current school year. Pine Bush budgeted $63,039,532 and estimates that it will only receive $61,255,733 from the state, a decrease of 2.83 percent. Services Aid made up the largest deficit, as the district budgeted $11,175,358 and is estimated to receive $9,315,288. This is the state’s combined aid categories for BOCES, textbooks, software, library materials, computer hardware and technology, public excess cost and transportation.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed State Aid for Pine Bush for the 2021-2022 school year is $62,922,065. This is below the district’s budgeted amount for 2020-2021 but is greater than the total they expect to receive this year. Next year, the governor’s proposed State Aid for High Cost Excess is expected to improve by over seven percent. The governor’s proposed budget for next year is expected to give Pine Bush more Service Aid ($10,984,833) than the estimated amount for this year.
At the board meeting, Pacella also revealed the tax levy limit for this school year ($62,204,219) as well as the next one ($62,991,710). He closed his presentation by discussing the unknown factors that go into developing next year’s budget.
“What we don’t know at this time is how much the federal stimulus funds will come back to help our district…,” Pacella said. “Will Albany ultimately balance its budget on the backs of school districts and other areas that they have to fund.”
The biggest unknown is to what capacity schools will open in September 2021. It remains to be seen if COVID-19 protocols such as wearing masks, social distancing and quarantining will continue. The district also wonders if it will be mandatory to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There’s camps on every side,” Pacella said. “We [the district] want students in five days a week, full capacity. But the problem is this COVID, we don’t know how far this thing is gonna go.”