New Suffolk school board members approved a $1.01 million budget for the 2019-20 academic year Tuesday, along with one other proposition for voters to consider in May.
This year’s budget is down 28% compared to last year’s $1.3 million approved budget. Board of Education president Tony Dill said this year’s budget brings the district closer in line with budget from 2016-17. Last year’s revenue and expenses produced “substantial” one-time costs.
The district tax levy is expected to rise 3.8% — however, it does not exceed the 2% increase cap. Under state law, Mr. Dill said, districts can use last year’s amount under the tax cap and apply it to the upcoming academic year. The district was well under the tax cap last year, with an estimated tax levy increase of 1.6%.
New York State mandates that school budgets be divided into three categories: administrative, program and capital. New Suffolk’s budget is structured differently, however, with more categories. Mr. Dill feels this offers a “clearer indication of where the money is going.”
This year, the district is expected to spend 9.1% of the budget on reserve funds. For next year, the district plans to create a Debt Service Reserve Fund, which would pay off long-term debts in the future, and initially be used for advertising bonds. The decision to create the Debt Service Reserve Fund will appear as a separate ballot item for district voters in May.
The district will still have debt service payments in the future, Mr. Dill said.
The district aims to spend 28.1% of the budget on elementary instruction. During the current academic year, two teachers left the district, which reduced teaching expenditures for 2019-20. Just over a quarter of the budget — 25.5% — will go toward secondary education, covering tuition and transportation costs for middle and high school students from the district to attend Southold schools.
Roughly 12.1% of the budget goes to district administration, which includes administrative functions in the New Suffolk school building, along with BOCES fees, legal and audit fees and more.
A new science curriculum is also in the works, Mr. Dill said, which would make room for more interactive science activities in the classroom. The budget would help pay for related equipment.
Personnel benefits account for 11.5% of the proposed budget.
The building operations category, which encompasses the cost of building upgrades and related expenditures, is 7.8% of the budget, an increase from last year. This district aims to repair asphalt around the building and add new mulch to the playground, part of a four-year maintenance plan.
The district also plans to repair smartboards and other technology and add three new laptops for teachers.
Other costs, including student transportation, special education, special items and student health, account for the balance of the budget.
Photo caption: BOE president Tony Dill, center, and principal Nancy Carney at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)