The Port Washington School District’s audited financial statements and supplementary financial information for the school year ended June 30, 2022 disclose that our school district made a profit of $7,429,233 for that year, which I am sure was a record annual profit for the district.
However, since our school district is a “not-for-profit” operation, we cannot call the figure that I’ve just cited a profit. We must call it the excess of revenues received by the district, over district expenses and encumbrances paid, or incurred, for the year. How did the amount of $7,429,233 come about?
First, we are told that the district received $1,941,179 more in revenues for the year, than had been budgeted for. Revenues are primarily received from school taxes paid by you and me, from PILOT payments (payments in lieu of taxes paid by certain commercial property owners) and from various state and federal school aid programs. Then, we are told that expenditures and encumbrances actually paid, or incurred by the district for the year, were under what had been budgeted for by an amazing $5,488,054.
Some 80% of district expenditures are for salaries and for the major employee fringe benefits of Social Security, health care insurance and pension benefits. The remaining 20% of the expense budget pays for insurance, utilities, repairs and maintenance, BOCES, busing, etc. etc.
Will the $7,429,233 excess be returned to the school taxpayers of Port Washington? No. As allowed under the education law, the excess has already been “salted away” by our school officials in various reserve accounts and in our district’s “rainy day” fund. When was the last time that it rained on our school district? I can’t remember the time.
Chances are operations of our school district for the current school year will result in an excess at least as large as last year’s. What can you do about this constant pilfering of money out of your pockets by our school district? It is a very difficult situation, since our teachers and school administrators will fight any proposed changes that they fear will slow down money flowing into their pockets.
First, contact our state legislators and demand that Albany change the archaic education laws that we now have so that local school districts are administered by expert educators, based in Albany and not by local mothers and fathers, who are easily intimated by our teachers and school administrators. And stop financing local school districts by property taxes and finance them instead through the state income tax system, so that all earners in the state pay something to finance our public schools. Next, vote No on the next proposed school budget, whatever the proposed amount is and do not vote for any school board candidate who has a child in the schools.
Things can change, but it will take a lot of pushing and shoving on all our parts to make the change come about.
Joel Katz, CPA