The draft budget calls for a 2.6 percent increase over the current year’s budget to a total of $90.77 million. Dragone said he’s very pleased with where the district is with its expenses.
“We’ll be waiting for some final numbers on some other variables, specifically health insurance, when we get final renewal rates and those kinds of things, but in the grand scheme of things our work is done,” Dragone said.
According to Dragone the two largest impacts to the budget are increases in health care costs and GlobalFoundries’ continual loss of assessed property value.
“The biggest driver is health insurance,” Dragone said. “We’re anticipating about $1.6 million increase, almost 12 percent, in health insurance for next year. If you take this out of this number down here, the budget is really only going up 0.8 percent.”
While the cost of health insurance continues to rise, the school district will continue to lose funding from the Payment in Lieu of Tax Agreement with GlobalFoundries. It is estimated that the assessed property value for 2018 will fall to $596.25 million, a loss of $35.06 million from when the property was first built.
This will cause a loss in tax revenue for the district of approximately $745,000. The GlobalFoundries site is expected to continue losing value each year until 2031, when it is anticipated to reach a final value of $165.62 million.
Another area of the budget that is expected to increase is the cost of instruction, which is projected to rise by 2.2 percent to a total of $45.77 million. This increase can be partially attributed to the proposed addition of several positions.
“I’ve been here nine years and we’ve never talked about adds in a budget presentation, so this is a big deal,” Dragone said. “When I started, we were entering a recession and we continued to always focus on efficiency, because it is our first principle and guideline. What we’re talking about now I don’t even want to call adds, because what we’re really doing is starting to fight our way back from 2010 and 2012, filling positions we’ve left vacant.”
The draft budget calls for the addition of one full-time orchestra teacher. The district currently has one teacher serving 220 students in both the high school and middle school. The position has been vacant since 2010 following a retirement.
The budget also calls for the restoration of a high school technology teacher. The position was left vacant by a retirement in 2015. According to Dragone the technology courses are already over enrolled for this year with sections being fit in to avoid closing students out from the courses.
The high school offered a pilot offering national certification for students in construction for the first time this year, which saw 100 students enrolled. With the additional technology teacher, the district plans to expand the program to offer masonry and residential wiring. The district will also begin offering an Advanced Placement computer science course.
Three instructional teacher leader positions will be restored at the high school over the math, English and social studies departments. The positions have been vacant since 2012, with district administrators managing and supporting the departments.
“The reality is, we’re at capacity with this work and there is so much constantly churning from State Ed. Whether it’s standards, assessments, we have the new global studies regents,” Dragone said. “The departments have been working through all of those changes. We need one definitive expertise teacher leaders.”
Finally, a part time literacy position will be added at the middle school to support students transitioning from fifth to sixth-grade. This will allow and extra course to be offered for students who need support to meet the grade level literacy standards.
The positions will be partially financed by reallocated funds from a fourth-grade section at Milton Terrace Elementary School that was eliminated due to enrollment, the remainder will cost the district approximately $195,000.
The district will have any changes to the draft budget completed by the next Board of Education meeting on March 15, Dragone said. He added that it was unlikely that the district would have details regarding state funding for the district by that time as the New York State Assembly has not yet completed the budget process.
The district plans to present the final recommended budget at the April 5 school board meeting. The board is expected to adopt the budget at the April 12 meeting and the public hearing on the budget will be held on May 3 at 6:30 p.m.