The difficult process of forming a budget continued Thursday as the Massapequa Board of Education discussed the tax levy and possible cuts to programs and staff at the district's second budget presentation.
After highlighting the administrative aspect next year’s budget at the previous meeting, Deputy Superintendent Alan Adcock held a presentation on the district’s instructional expenditures and the district’s tax levy increase.
The Tax Levy was revealed by Adcock at his meeting to be $4,732,730, or a 3.19 percent increase over the previous year’s budget. As disclosed at the previous meeting, the budget for the 2013-14 school year is currently set at $183,073,234.
The 2013-14 instructional budget currently stands at $106,675,480, and tentatively features no cuts to either programs or staff; however, the budget is far from finished, Adcock said.
“We have taken all instructional programs and staff currently in place, and rolled it forward into next year,” he said. “However, we did this without taking into consideration the budget increase, so there is currently a $6 million gap we have to fill.”
Superintendent Charles Sulc added that the Board will be looking at a list of recommendations in coming days that may or may not result in possible reductions of personnel, programs, or activities next year to close the financial gap.
Proposed reductions include but are not limited to: fewer field trips, lowered funding for sports teams and musical programs, reduced after-school busing, and the elimination of the K-8 Summer School program, which according to Adcock has been seeing declining enrollment and completion for several years now.
“These reductions amount to over $1 million towards our $6 million dollar deficit,” Adcock said.
Sulc declared that the actual cuts decided upon will be discussed at the next Board of Education meeting.
One of the biggest impacts on next year’s budget, according to Adcock, are skyrocketing employee benefit costs.
“There’s an increase on the New York State pension plan rate next year of 37 percent,” he said. “The increase of those pension costs has added about $4.5 million to the budget next year. Increasing health care costs aren’t helping, either.”
Sulc, who recently announced his resignation effective at the end of the current school year, spoke on the difficulties surrounding crafting the 2013-14 budget.
“This has been a difficult budget to develop...we were exposed to the tax cap for the first time last year, and the tax cap is still with us. It has slowed down the budget process considerably,” he said. “And it’s a very interesting tax cap this year, because retirement system costs are one of the biggest drivers in our budget. Virtually every penny of what we can increase our Tax Levy by under the cap is being used to offset the cost of pension costs. We can’t control that.”
“We also still don’t have a real good answer on what out state aid package will be,” Sulc added. “There’s some genuine concerns over state aid packages this year...if Gov. Cuomo’s aid proposal goes through when the state adopts it’s new budget next week, we’d have a $1.3 to a $1.4 million loss in state aid.”
Another hurdle for the district, Sulc said, was the declining enrollment number of students, which has become of great concern as of late.
“This year we have 600 students graduating from the High School,” he said. “However, we only had 399 students enroll in Kindergarten this year...that’s a tremendous loss in students.”