The first draft of the 2017-18 budget presented by Dragone at the March 2 school board meeting, called for a 2.6 percent increase over the current year’s budget to a total of $90.77 million due largely to a projected 12 percent increase in the cost of health insurance.
Since that meeting, the district has received the renewal rates for health insurance and found that insurance rates will increase by $1.19 million, $400,000 less than the district originally projected. Factoring in the lower rate, the revised draft of the 2017-18 budget calls for a 2.1 percent increase over the current year’s budget to a total of $90.34 million.
The allowable tax levy limit for the district is a 6.12 percent increase or $2.19 million. Dragone said that the district would not levy that amount in taxes, but that the district would not be able to determine the proposed tax levy for next school year until the state budget was complete and the state funding to the district was known.
“Once we know what the revenue from the state is, we will talk about how we are going to balance the budget from our side of business,” Dragone said.
Both the state Senate and the state Assembly have released their one-house budget proposals for next year, with the Senate calling for $1.4 billion increase in Foundation Aid with a four-year phase in and the Assembly calling for a $906 million increase in Foundation Aid.
Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $428 million increase in Foundation Aid in his budget proposal and called for the elimination of the Foundation Aid formula, proposing a year to year disbursement instead. Both the Senate and the Assembly have rejected the proposal.
“The only real revenue we see comes from the Foundation Aid,” Dragone said, arguing that an increase of $1 billion in Foundation Aid is needed in order for school districts to continue to operate at their current levels.
Both the New York State School Boards Association and the Board of Regents have called for a $1.8 billion increase in Foundation Aid. Dragone predicted that the state would ultimately increase Foundation Aid by somewhere between $750,00 and $1.8 billion.
“The budgets also include all of the reimbursable expenses. None of that changes. Facilities, BOCES, transportation, all the money that you spend you still get reimbursed for that, but this is where the rubber will meet the road for years and years to come because that is operating period,” Dragone said.
“We always run our own race. I think it has proved us very well, we will continue to do that and our budget reflects this. You spend your energy chasing what might or might not happen, you’ll never make any ground, so I’m very proud of the fact that our nose is always to the ground,” He added.
No other changes have been made to the district’s first draft of the 2017-18 budget, which maintains or enhances programs and staff at their current levels.
The draft budget calls for the restoration of several positions that were left vacant for budgetary reasons following staff retirements. The positions include one full-time orchestra teacher, one high school technology teacher and three instructional teacher leader positions.
The budget also calls for the addition of one part time literary position at the middle school. The positions will be partially funded through the reallocation of funds from Milton Terrace Elementary School following the elimination of a fourth-grade section due to enrollment. The remainder will cost the district approximately $195,000.
“What we are doing to accomplish our mission and what we are doing to build strong programs shows in our opportunities it shows in our successes and it shows in every aspect of what we do. That is what we will continue to do,” Dragone said.
Following the release of the state funding, the district plans to present the final budget at the April 5 school board meeting. The board is expected to adopt the budget at the April 12 meeting and a public hearing on the proposed budget will be held on May 3 at 6:30 p.m.
The statewide school budget vote will take place on May 16 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.