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First look at 18-19 budget shows near $1M gap

Superintendent Dr. Carol A Pallas and Business Administrator Joseph Lenz gave a first look at the 2018-19 school budget at the February 26 Board of Education meeting.

With no changes to program or staffing levels, the rollover budget for ’18-’19 would be $48,171,323. That’s an increase of $924,937 over the current year’s budget of $47,246,386.

The budget gap is significantly lower than it has been in recent years, mainly due to fiscal responsibility and a lower-than-anticipated increase in health benefits. It is driven, however, by an increased need for support for students with disabilities; new and continuing unfunded mandates; and increasing fixed costs, like utilities, contractual salary increases, and health insurance increases.

Under the governor’s proposed budget, Schalmont will receive $14,444,179 in state aid, or a 1.1% increase over last year’s aid.

“The cost of a quality education rapidly outpaces the amount of funding we receive from the state,” said Superintendent Pallas. “We continue to compensate for that disparity by finding savings where we can and using fund balance when appropriate.”

The majority of the school budget is funded through local taxes, something Pallas says the district approaches judiciously.

“We don’t rush to raise taxes. We constantly struggle with the challenge of balancing the needs of the students with our fiscal responsibility to the community.”

Schalmont’s maximum allowable tax levy limit is 2.6% under the tax cap calculation. This could raise an additional $730,000 in local taxes. So, the board is faced with a couple of options to consider:

It could propose a budget requiring a tax levy at or below the tax levy limit prescribed by law. This would require a simple majority (50% + 1 voter approval). Or it could decide to propose a budget requiring a tax levy above the tax levy limit of 2.6%. This would require a supermajority of 60% voter approval.

The board will take another look at the budget at its March 12 meeting. The public is encouraged to attend.

Next Steps

     • March 1st: BOE Candidate Petitions available for pickup in District Office
    • March 12th: BOE Meeting
        o Superintendent’s Second Draft of Budget
    • March 26th: BOE Meeting/Public Forum
        o Adoption of Special Propositions
    • March 29th: BOE Candidate’s last day to file
    • April 9th: BOE Meeting
        o Superintendent’s Third Draft of Budget
        o BOE adopts 2018-19 Budget