The Huntington School Board is closing in on finalizing a budget to fund district operations during the 2018/19 school year. Trustees are expected to adopt the financial plan during a public meeting in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
The budget development process began last fall when central office officials began crafting the plan. Meetings were held with building principals and department leaders. Executives closely followed financial projections impacting health insurance and retirement costs along with forecasts for interest rates and assessed property values.
A budget hearing is slated for Monday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium. District residents will go to the polls on Tuesday, May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Huntington High School to cast ballots on the proposed plan.
“This has been among the more challenging budget development processes in recent years, as we have had the need to manage significant increases in mandated costs that are well beyond local control,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “With that said, however, the budget presented for trustee approval on Monday maintains or, in some cases, expands our instructional program and student opportunities, while reducing expenditures in areas that will have minimal impact on students and staff. Further, this year’s capital proposition, which outlines the use of monies already in hand within the district’s Building Improvement Funds, will allow the district to make an array of needed infrastructure upgrades across the district, including new roofs on three primary school buildings. The proposition will have no impact at all on the tax levy or tax rate.”
The working budget has undergone several revisions during the development process as enrollment and staffing needs became clear and the amount of state aid the district is expected to receive was finalized.
Draft budget No. 4 currently includes projected spending of $129,812,991 which is a 2.85 percent increase over the 2017/18 budget. The $3.6 million increase will be offset to some extent by increased state aid and strategic use of surplus monies and dedicated reserve accounts.
The district’s foundation aid will increase by $497,070 and overall state aid is now expected to be $566,607 higher than the current school year. Total state aid is projected to amount to $17,487,062 during the 2018/19 school year.
The draft budget exceeds the district’s obligation under the state tax levy cap law. The tax levy is projected to increase by 2.68 percent while the tax rate is projected to rise by the same amount percent to $238.6 per $100 of assessed valuation. Assessed property values are budgeted to remain flat at $45,105,429. Should the district’s assessed value rise, trustees will have the option of lowering the tax rate increase early next fall when the tax rate is finalized.
District officials worked tirelessly for months to reduce spending in non-essential areas and seek economies throughout the financial plan. The result is the draft budget figure is $475,611 below the state tax cap.
Trustees intend to use $1.4 million in surplus monies to hold down the tax rate increase. Money is set aside in the draft budget for several contingency positions should an increase in enrollment warrant the hiring of additional teachers. The plan makes conservative financial assumptions on both the revenue and spending sides.
Budget highlights include:
• Appropriates monies to acquire new workbooks, textbooks and library books along with computer hardware and software.
• Maintains the district’s full day kindergarten program.
• Funds more than six dozen athletic teams for high school and middle school students, nearly 100 coaching positions and a full-time athletic trainer.
• Provides a complete program of adult-supervised after-school extracurricular activities, including dozens of clubs for students.
• Funds comprehensive art, music and physical education opportunities, including band, orchestra, chorus, marching band, music ensembles and specialized art courses.
• Continues the SEARCH and Math Olympiad programs for academically talented fifth and sixth graders.
• Funds student drama club productions, newspapers, concerts, science fairs and the district art show.
• Includes a comprehensive special education program for students with disabilities and support services for all students.
• Provides for an extensive line-up of Regents, Honors and Advanced Placement courses in every academic area.
• Continues the district’s dual language program for grades K-5.
• Maintains educationally sound class sizes at all levels.
• Provides for expanded enrollment in elective and Advanced Placement courses at Huntington High School.
• Appropriates monies for facility upgrades.
• Provides to summer academic enrichment programs.
• Continues the district’s science research, robotics, mock trial and math competition initiatives.
• Includes monies for career and technical education opportunities, internships and community service programs.
Copies of the draft budget and the budget presentations that have been made throughout the development process are available on the district’s website at www.joshuacarnes.info. The public is invited to speak at Monday night’s public meeting.