Herricks presents $114M budget for 2018-2019 during board of education meeting

Herricks presents $114M budget for 2018-2019 during board of education meeting
Herricks Superintendent Fino Celano presents the district's proposed $114 million budget at Thursday's board of education meeting. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

The proposed Herricks 2018-19 budget totals $114,161,059 and calls for a 2.55 increase in the tax levy, Assistant Superintendent for Business Lisa Rutkoske said during the first budget presentation at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.

The budget would result in a spending increase of a little over $2.9 million from this year, or 2.65 percent, she said. The tax increase is within the state-mandated cap, Rutkoske said.

Since the budget is within the tax levy cap it only requires a simple majority to pass during the May 15 vote.

The average tax levy increase for Herricks over the past three years has been 1.44 percent, including the proposed 2.55 percent increase for the coming school year.

The budget is broken down into three pieces: program, capital and administrative costs.

Program costs receive the largest chunk – 75 percent of the budget, with over $86 million set aside. Capital would receive about $15.5 million and administrative about $11.8 million.

The three major factors driving the budget expenditures, Rutkoske said, are increased costs in the retirement systems, health insurance and staffing.

The district belongs to two retirement systems, the Employee Retirement System for civil service workers and the Teacher Retirement System.

The Employee Retirement System costs are projected to remain even, but the Teacher Retirement System costs are going to rise from 9.7 percent to 10.63 percent, Rutkoske said.

Swings in the Teacher Retirement System are common, but no district is allowed to have a reserve fund to stabilize those costs, Rutkoske said.

Health insurance costs are also expected to increase potentially by 12 percent for the next year, Rutkoske said.

The district belongs to the New York State Health Insurance Plan; that along with Medicare costs make up about $1 million of the budget’s increase.

Staffing for a growing district also adds costs, Rutkoske said.

Staffing and health insurance cost increases total about $1.5 million, Rutkoske said.

The district is expecting to get $11.9 million in state aid to fund the over $114 million budget, Rutkoske said. That is a 2 percent increase from the 2017-18 state aid.

Foundation aid, allocated by the state based on size, wealth and needs of a district, increased only 0.25 percent for Herricks. The district will receive $17,134 in foundation aid for 2018-19.

Superintendent Fino Celano said Herricks is not getting the amount in foundation aid the district should be receiving based on the formula created by the state in 2007.

The district is receiving over $4.7 million less than it should be in foundation aid, Celano said.

Celano also said that the state budget has yet to be finalized, and the district will likely receive a little more in state aid but he does not expect a significant increase.

Celano said the goal when creating the budget is to balance fiscal responsibility to taxpayers with maintaining a high-level program for students.

The district has a lower per-pupil expenditure than other similarly performing districts, Celano said.

Herricks spent a little over $25,000 per student in 2017, while the Roslyn school district and East Williston school district spent more than $30,000 per student, according to the Herricks presentation.

Great Neck Public Schools spent nearly $35,000 per student and the Jericho school district spent $40,000 per student, according to Herricks.

A few aspects of this year’s proposal include expanding the Project Lead the Way program to grades six through eight, supporting robotics teams at each school, installing a new bank of lockers in the high school and purchasing two new school buses to replace older ones.

The next budget meeting will be held on March 8, with two more following on March 22 and April 12.

The budget hearing will be on May 3, followed by the community vote on May 15.

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