Roslyn School District proposes $133M draft budget for 2024-2025

Roslyn School District proposes $133M draft budget for 2024-2025
The Roslyn School District administration presented a draft budget for the 2024-2025 school year, which features a 4.45% budget-to-budget increase. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The Roslyn Union Free School District is proposing a tentative 2024-2025 draft budget that features a 4.45% year-over-year increase highlighted by what the administration called an insufficient amount of aid from the state.

The district’s budget for the current year is set at $127,474,805, but a draft budget outlines an increase to $133,145,519 in 2024-2025 – a $5,670,714 bump.

While the state has implemented a 2% tax cap on the budget, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration Susan Warren explained that the district’s tax levy limit can actually be much higher to account for district costs. She said the district does not have the tax levy limit calculated yet.

The district’s administration presented the draft budget at the Board of Education’s meeting Thursday night, focusing on the big picture.

Warren said the district is facing an increase in costs in part attributed to inflationary increases.

“We’re fighting inflation of an incredible magnitude,” Warren said.

Warren said the current budget is 32% funded by state aid, whereas the 2024-2025 budget is expected only to be funded by 9% from state aid.

The Roslyn School District is estimated to receive $12,455,214 in 2024-2025 under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s state aid proposal. This is a 10.17% increase from the district’s state aid last year of $11,305,205.

Superintendent of Schools Allison Brown said mandatory increases the district is facing include but aren’t limited to increased enrollment, insurance costs, utilities, materials and supplies, and the universal pre-K program.

Brown said that while the state is providing grants for universal pre-K programs, the Roslyn School District must pass that money along to the preschools they work with and still front about $95,000 to fund it – attributed mostly to administration fees.

Essentials the district is also budgeting for in the 2024-2025 school year include a new kiln for the high school ceramics program, two new maintenance vehicles, additional transportation employees, a generator for the middle school and cybersecurity defenses.

Brown said enrollment has risen in the district over the past 10 years. So far in the current school year, the district reported 3,311 students – the largest the district has been. Last year the district had 3,277 students and the year prior 3,295 students.

In addition to growing enrollment numbers, Brown said grade cohorts are also increasing throughout the years they are in the district, with increases in students at every grade level.

Brown said the school’s enrollment numbers show a trend in the continued growth of students in the district, which the district must account for as costs rise to accommodate a larger student population.

The superintendent said the administration evaluated methods of reducing expenses without impacting the district’s programs. She said this is achieved by budgeting closer to actual expenses, which is assessed by discussing historical budgets and expenditures with the administration.

Warren said the district is working to tighten the budget to bring down expenses as low as possible while maintaining financial responsibility.

While the district is looking to tighten its budget, it is still expanding programs and opportunities for its students. This includes additional high school classes, professional development for teachers and reading resources and programs for elementary students.

“It is crystal clear to me with every year that passes that we do get better at it even though the challenges grow even more astoundingly every single year,” Board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy said. “But every single line item, every penny that we spend is related back to a program that is related back to an administrative goal which is related back to a board goal.”

Waxman Ben-Levy applauded the administration for its efforts in drafting the budget amid budgetary and inflationary challenges while still investing in the students.

“Our administration hears us and hears our community and looks for ways to demonstrate vision and to innovate and to provide something to our community’s children that they can actually use in their lives today, tomorrow and hopefully for a brighter, brighter future,” Waxman Ben-Levy said.

The board will continue budget discussions at its next meeting Feb. 15.

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