It’s now up to residents. Huntington School Board members have unanimously adopted a budget to fund district operations during the 2017/18 school year and placed it on the ballot for Tuesday, May 16.
The adopted budget continues all academic programs and keeps the art, music, physical education, extracurricular club and interscholastic athletic programs intact. It fully funds the Blue Devil marching band, elementary and secondary grade level bands, orchestras and ensembles and district drama clubs.
Student bus transportation based upon current mileage guidelines will also continue. The plan provides funds to implement strategic improvements to the academic and co-curricular offerings. Current class size guidelines will be maintained. The budget sets aside monies for 4.6 contingent teacher positions that can be filled should enrollment increase.
The budget totals $126,213,223, an increase of 2.53 percent over the current year’s spending plan. If approved by residents, the 2017/18 budget would raise the tax levy by 1.35 percent, which is below the limit of 1.89 percent established by state law.
The adopted budget is $566,420 below the tax levy limit. A home assessed at the district average of $3,600 would see an increase of $111.24 before any STAR program savings are applied.
It is estimated that the tax rate will go from $229.41 to $232.50 per $100 of assessed valuation, an increase of 1.35 percent. Should assessed valuation come in higher than anticipated in the spending plan, trustees will be in a position to lower the actual increase when the tax rate is set early next fall.
“The budget for the coming year was constructed with great care and attention to student and school needs, as well as with the taxpayer burden in mind,” Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “The tax levy associated with the budget is more than $566,000 below the established district cap, while still maintaining or enhancing programs that will continue benefit Huntington students in grades K-12. Additionally, the capital proposition will ensure that needed upgrades and repairs occur across district buildings at no additional cost to taxpayers and with no debt accumulation. In brief, a very responsible package in all regards will be presented to district voters on May 16.”
The 2017/18 budget allocates $230,335 for new textbooks, $163,030 for new workbooks, $130,000 for new computer software, $45,264 for new library books and related resources and $324,879 for new instructional equipment, including computers and tablet devices.
The adopted budget includes monies to allow for the purchase of desktop and laptop computers, laptop carts, tablet devices, SMART Boards, SMART Tables and other technologies.
The 2017/18 spending plan allots $10.443 million for bus transportation. The district is currently transporting 5,721 eligible students residing in the district to eight public schools as well as 38 private/parochial schools and 23 special needs schools in accordance with state law. Students are being transported by 53 large busses and 88 vans. State transportation aid is expected to total $3,149,840 next year.
Costs for employee benefits are budgeted to decline by $1,605,923 in 2017/18 compared to the current year. State aid is projected to increase by $926,199 to $16,890,039 next year. Miscellaneous revenue is expected to increase by $467,009 to $1,474,077.
In a sign of superior fiscal health, the district anticipates appropriating $1.4 million from its fund balance, a decline of $308,214 from the 2016/17 budget.
Two capital reserve fund propositions will also be on the May 16 ballot. Neither will have any impact on taxes if residents vote to approve them.
The first proposition would allow the district to spend $2.495 million in existing Building Improvement Fund monies for roof replacement at Washington Primary School; replacement of two boilers at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School; replacement of exterior doors and the wood shop area roll-up door at J. Taylor Finley Middle School; replacement of four exterior doors and the vestibule in the main lobby at Woodhull Intermediate School; construction of a security vestibule at Southdown Primary School.
The second capital reserve proposition seeks permission to create a new Building Improvement Fund for the purpose of completing district-wide renovation and reconstruction projects. Existing budget monies would be used to capitalize the new fund in the ultimate amount of $12.5 million.
For example, if in any given year, the district spends less money than it had anticipated, these surplus monies could be transferred by the Huntington School Board into the Building Improvement Fund.
The fund could only be used for capital projects, including new school roofs, windows, doors, boilers, facility improvements, etc. The district could apply for state aid on any capital project it completes. This fund would utilize existing budget monies and allow the district to avoid borrowing funds through a bond issue and associated interest costs. Residents would still have to approve any proposed projects before work begins.
Trustees Jennifer Hebert and Xavier Palacios are running unopposed for re-election to new three year terms.
Huntington School Board members will hold a public budget hearing on the 2017/18 plan on Monday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School auditorium.