The SCCS budget process is well under way for the 2015-16 academic year. Initial budget discussions have focused on the impact of construction debt rolling off our books and cost increases associated with salary, benefits, and other expenses.
The district anticipates a decline in debt service payments during the 2015-16 academic year of $803,809, along with a corresponding decline in building aid revenue of $913,860. The decline in both expense and revenue will occur as the district has decreased its overall debt load and has eliminated costs and revenue associated with debt refinanced back in 2002. The effect is much like a homeowner paying off a mortgage. As a result, the district anticipates a drop in the operating budget for the 2015-2016 academic year.
The SCCS Board of Education also continues to review projected expenses for 2015-2016 during their regularly scheduled meetings. The district anticipates an increase of contractual salary expenses of approximately $115,000 while the cost of employee benefits will increase $135,000. Fortunately, we also anticipate a drop of nearly $140,000 in retirement related expenses. As most budget lines will remain flat, the only major expense increase anticipated for the next school year would be costs associated with completing a state-mandated building conditions survey. The building conditions survey is completed every five years and serves as a guiding document for identifying building repairs and potential capital project work in the future. Fortunately, the cost of the building condition survey is reimbursed by the state the following year.
One of the unique challenges facing all districts across the state is the Governor’s refusal to release state revenue projections for individual school districts. During Governor Cuomo’s recent State of the State address, he outlined a number of initiatives and stated that he will not release district aid ‘runs’ and an additional $1.1 billion in funding for public education without concessions in the areas of teacher evaluation, accountability, and tenure. The SCCS Board of Education will continue to reexamine costs and discuss specific strategies to lessen the burden to the local taxpayer. Board meetings are scheduled for February 23, March 9, and March 23. In addition, community presentations will take place during the regularly scheduled town meetings in Genoa (March 11 @ 7pm), Scipio (March 11 @ 8pm), and Aurora (March 18 @ 7pm).