The Northport-East Northport UFSD Board of Education’s fourth discussion of the 2022-2023 budget, regarding the topics of “Revenue, Fund Balance and Reserves,” occurred on Thursday, March 24. The details of this week’s budget draft regarding these specific topics can be found here.
The entire proposed budget has been made available by the district in a 148-page budget development book. It is worthy to note that the budget is a draft until it is finalized and adopted by the board. Now projected at a grand total of $178,377,668, the proposed budget represents a budget-to-budget increase of 2.11%. The current budget has been proposed at a tax levy of 1.01% under the tax levy limit of 1.79%. If passed under this 1.01% levy, the average taxpayer will see an increase of roughly $80.60. These newly revealed numbers are lower than what was presented at previous meetings.
As Mr. Robert Howard, Assistant Superintendent for Business explained, state aid is the second largest revenue consideration that the district collects, the first being the community’s real estate taxes. With regards to total New York State aid, the Northport-East Northport School District will receive $19,813,311, a 16.10% percent increase of roughly $2,500,000 from this year’s to next.
The category accounting for the largest increase in this collection comes under “Foundation Aid.” This is a specific type of aid which takes school district wealth and student need into account when allocating distributable state funding. Mr. Howard notably referred to this as the “most important aid category” because, for a number of reasons, it is recurring and “grows upon the prior year.” For the 2022-2023 school year, the district will receive an increase of $1,745,040 in this foundation aid, an increase of 17.49%.
This number, however, may grow even further, as foundation aid allocations often increase once New York State’s budget is adopted in early April. As Mr. Howard noted, there is a “likelihood of an improvement on state aid” after this occurs.
With regards to fund balance and reserves, the district will see a decrease in such, eventually landing at $21,133,241. By comparison, the 2021-2022 academic year saw a fund balance and reserve at $26,388,583.
This meeting also served as a vessel for a public hearing on the 2022-2023 proposed budget at large; three community residents spoke.
Trustee David Badanes and Mr. Howard, attempting to quell the economic concerns raised by community members, elaborated on why the district is seeing a budget-to-budget increase, despite the closing of two elementary schools last academic year. Because the school district is saving significant amounts of money by not keeping these two schools open, they are now, as was the chosen word, “reinvesting” that money into the district’s infrastructure and other capital projects.
Resident Christina Karman expressed her concern regarding the proposed reduction of $2,119,753 under the category of “1st-5th Grade Core Education,” a budget-to-budget decrease of 19.81%. Mr. Banzer replied that elementary school allocations have not decreased – they have just moved. When the district reorganization occurred last year, fifth grade education was reapplied in the budget’s literature to the middle school allocations. As Mr. Banzer noted, the district “took money from one area and moved it to another.”