Members of the Shenendehowa Central School District Board of Education received a first look at a proposed $177 million 2019-2020 budget that is a 2.2 percent increase from last year’s passed budget.
The total proposed budget by school administration comes in under the tax cap at $177,546,764, up from last year’s approved budget of $173,682,956.
At Tuesday night’s board meeting, District Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson said that a large percent of the district’s budget is related to personnel. Specifically, 55 percent of the budget will go to paying for combined instructional, administrative and non instructional salaries, or close to $98 million.
Benefits make up the next largest budget chunk, coming in at 26 percent of the spending plan, or $ 46.6 million.
But the district will also have a chance to save money during the upcoming school year, as 13 teachers have indicated the intend to retire, providing Shen with $538,600 in savings.
During the budget presentation, Robinson emphasized that a large unknown at this point is how much state aid Shen will receive, as the New York State Legislature had not yet finalized the state budget. According to budget predictions, that amount is expected to go up 1.2 percent from last year to about $48 million, under the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
State aid covers 26.92 percent of the budget, while local taxes cover just over 70 percent.
While the budget planning process partly deals with looking to the next immediate school year, another part of the process involves creating a forward-looking forecast that attempts to accommodate, or at least acknowledge potential changes in the district that will occur over the next decade.
One issue the board should consider is how expanded kindergarten programs will factor into the district over the coming years, Robinson said. At this point, Shen is the only district in the area that does not offer a full-day kindergarten program. Though the board has been grappling with the issue for years, members cite a lack of space as the biggest hurdle to offering a full-day program.
Instead, Shenendehowa offers six half-day kindergarten sessions at each of the district’s eight elementary schools.
The district, which has a total of about 10,000 students, also offers an extended-day program that allows students to stay beyond the half-day program for supplemental instruction.
“What do we need to do now, so when we get there, we’re achieving those things that we want to achieve?” Robinson said.
Also on the ballot will be an annual bus replacement proposition. Each year, the district purchases a slew of new buses for its fleet, retiring older ones.
According to Shen’s data, district buses travelled more than 2.1 million miles during the 2017-2018 school year. For the 2019-2020 school year, the district will seek to purchase 20 buses of various sizes for a cost not to exceed $2,189,124.
Specifically, Shen will purchase 14 72-passenger buses and 6 29-passenger buses.
Also on the ballot will be three open seats on the district’s board of education.
There will be a public hearing on the budget on May 7 at the board of education meeting at 7 p.m. at the Gowana Middle School library.
The vote will be held in the gymnasium at Gowana Middle School on May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Qualified voters must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the Shenendehowa district for at least 30 days prior to the vote. Shen has estimated that there are 50,000 to 55,000 qualified voters in the district.