Sewanhaka school district capital spending could jump 9.08%

Sewanhaka school district capital spending could jump 9.08%
Sewanhaka High School, as seen in Floral Park. (Photo courtesy of Future Engineers)

Sewanhaka Central High School District presented a first draft of the 2024-2025 budget Tuesday night that calls for $258,598,121 in spending – a 5.68% increase of $13,906,669.

The proposed tax levy is 2.20%, which comes in just under the tax levy limit.

The district is projected to receive $72,925,547 in state aid for 2024-2025. This state aid represents an increase of $1,325,067 from the 2023-2024 budget.

Thomas Dolan, Interim Superintendent of the Sewanhaka Central High School District, said the district has to make changes to its plans as this is the district’s first  “post-pandemic budget.”

“The district had in the recent past been given considerable federal funding, and the largest increase in state aid that any of us can remember,” said Dolan. “This year, both disappear, and some new bills appear on our doorstep.”

The new bills refer to an increase in health insurance costs due to the “delayed impact of COVID.”

As a result, Dolan and Kevin O’Brien, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, stressed that the first draft of the 2024-2025 budget is currently relying on surplus funds left over from past budgets and money held in reserves.

“The truth is this is not a sustainable strategy,” said Dolan.

He added that the 2024-2025 budget draft proposed Tuesday night is just a “first iteration.”

O’Brien said the district’s current plan is not only to dip into reserves and fund balances but to reduce the expenditure budget by as much as possible.

O’Brien suggested reducing the 2024-2025 salaries and benefits costs through a retirement incentive to eligible employees. Dolan said that not every position left vacant will need to be replaced.

O’Brien also mentioned staff reductions, analyzing expenditure codes for historical spending trends and identifying other areas for cost containment.

The current proposed budget can be broken down into administrative, program and capital costs.

Some $30,919,805 of the proposed 2024-2025 budget is set to cover administrative costs, including special education programs, library media centers, technology, pupil personnel services, health services, extracurricular activities, athletics, transportation and special aid.

This represents a 4.94% budget-to-budget increase from the $29,463,085 that went toward administrative costs in 2023-2024. Administration also most notably covers curriculum.

Curriculum focuses for 2024-2025 include expanding dual enrollment course offerings, implementing internships through PM Pediatrics with the CTE Medical Assisting program and supporting STEM programs for grades 7 through 12.

Board members stressed a particular focus on the district’s English as a New Language program in the 2024-2025 year.

Some $196,138,170 of the proposed 2024-2025 is set aside for program costs. This represents a 5.27% budget-to-budget increase from the $186,314,456 that went toward program costs in 2023-2024.

Lastly, the budget sets aside money for capital spending. Capital spending takes a much smaller chunk of the budget than programming but surpassed administrative costs as the second-highest portion of the budget in this year’s proposed budget.

Some $31,540,146 of the 2024-2025 budget is allocated toward capital costs. This represents a 9.08% budget-to-budget increase from last year’s capital spending, the highest percentage increase across the three areas of spending.

O’Brien presented 24 proposed capital projects for 2024-2025, ranging from bathroom renovations at Elmont Memorial High School to a new gymnasium ceiling at H. Frank Carey High School to concrete replacement and sidewalk installations at multiple schools.

“This is as democratic and transparent a process that exists anywhere,” said Dolan.

The next board meeting will be held at Sewanhaka High School on March 26. A budget is set to be adopted by the board on April 17. The budget vote is set for May 21.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here