The process of developing a budget to fund operations during the 2018/19 school year is well underway in the Huntington School District.
Superintendent James W. Polansky outlined some of the issues and fiscal realities that district executives are working with as they strive to finalize the first draft of next year’s budget.
Mr. Polansky said the district is tracking the following items that carry the possibility of posing a significant budget impact:
• New federal tax code
• State budget revenue shortfall
• Contractual salary/benefit cost increases
• Increase in Teacher Retirement System contributions (from 9.8 to 10.5-11.0 percent of salaries for state certificated employees)
• Contracted service increases
• Rise in short-term interest rates
• Other mandated costs (e.g., Part 154-English Language Learners)
• Limited or no increase in state aid anticipated
“This is likely to be among the more challenging budget development processes we have faced in some time,” Mr. Polansky said. “We will remain committed to allocating and directing the resources at our discretion in a manner that best supports our students’ needs and interests. As always, we encourage our residents to attend budget meetings and workshops throughout.”
Mr. Polansky said that while state aid typically comprises about 25 percent of Long Island school district budgets, state funding covers only about 13.4 percent of Huntington UFSD’s budget.
The state monies also do not stretch as far in the high cost metropolitan area as they do in some of New York’s other areas to the north and west. “State aid dollars have less purchasing power on Long Island than in any other region in the state,” Mr. Polansky said. “The purchasing power of $1,000 in the lowest cost regions (North Country and Mohawk Valley) is the equivalent of $702 on Long Island and in New York City.”
Some of the other highlights of Mr. Polansky’s presentation include the following:
• Foundation Aid (the largest unrestricted aid category supporting public school district expenditures) comprises nearly 70 percent of all New York State school aid.
• If the Foundation Aid formula had been fully funded, Long Island schools would have received an additional $5.92 billion over the past 10 years.
• Long Island’s Foundation Aid as a percentage of total Long Island aid is more than 4.5 percent lower than that of the state as a whole.
• In 2016/17, Huntington received just short of $8.5 million in Foundation Aid. If the formula had been fully funded, the district would have received $17.8 million
A series of public meetings will be held over the next three months that will review all budget areas. The presentations will also be posted on the district’s website at www.hufsd.edu following each meeting along with an audio recording of the session.
2018/19 Public Budget Development Meetings
Monday, February 5
• Tax levy limit
Monday, February 26
• General overview of the budget process to date;
• Function areas dealing with central administration and the school board;
Monday, March 12
• Employee benefits;
• Debt service and inter-fund transfers;
• Capital projects.
Monday, March 26
• Instruction and staffing;
Monday, April 9
• Review of the budget.
Monday, April 16
• Budget adoption by trustees.
Monday, May 7
• Budget hearing.
Tuesday, May 15
• Budget vote and trustee election at Huntington High School from 6 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Once it is released, a copy of the draft budget will be posted on the district’s website at www.hufsd.edu and will also be available in the district’s business office and in each of the eight school buildings.