Manhasset School District analyzes budget and ‘lean’ reserves

Manhasset School District analyzes budget and ‘lean’ reserves
Sam Gergis, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations in the Manhasset Union Free School District, gave an overview to the Board of Education about the state of the district's finances. (Photo by Karina Kovac)

In a presentation at the Manhasset Union Free School District’s Board of Education meeting Nov. 2, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Sam Gergis provided an overview of the district’s financial situation.

Gergis’ presentation looked at the budget-to-budget analysis spanning over 14 years, last year compared to now, budget solutions for the future and more.

“The 23-24 current year general fund budget was approved by the voters in the amount of just under $180 million,” said Gergis, “but it represented an increase of 3%, or $3.136 million, from the 22-23 budget. 23-24 is negatively affected by certain trends affecting all school districts and ultimately municipalities. The property tax limit, which is in its 12th year, continues to negatively affect school districts considering the fluctuations and uncertainties related to state aid.”

The presentation also raised concerns about the district’s reserves. Although enrollment and revenue are steadily increasing, Board of Ed Vice President Jill Pullano said “because we’re in a tax cut world we’re running very, very lean. “Looking at the data, the district is halfway toward what it should have saved in the reserves for short and long-term emergencies.

“From your perspective, current fiscal health is good on an ongoing basis,” said Trustee Ted Post. “The philosophical question is how do we build reserves? We are potentially at risk for unforeseen events given our reserves are lower than comparable districts’. We need to think about the best places to put that in different reserve accounts.”

Inflation and the Consumer Price Index were highlighted by Gergis as major factors impacting school districts’ financial health. Gergis pointed out that state aid formulas were designed in 2007, and many of the existing factors are outdated or accentuated to an unprecedented degree.

“Advocacy through local state officials is key,” he told the board, saying there is an “advocacy season” to appeal to officials after the governor’s budget is released during the third week of January.

At the Nov. 30 Board of Education meeting the board will adopt the budget calendar and discuss factors influencing the 24-25 budget.

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