Scarsdale Village April 11, 2017 - Under the expeditious treatment procedure, the Board of Directors of the Forum authorized the release of the Education Committee’s report, ‘The Scarsdale Board of Education Proposed 2017-18 Budget’ The Education Committee reviewed the proposed budget of the Board of Education (the “Board”) for the 2017-18 fiscal year and concluded that the Forum should support its adoption. According to Education Committee Chair Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez, "The School Board and the Superintendent have made the case for endorsing the proposed 2017-18 budget by the Community, and we commend them for their efforts." The report can be downloaded HERE. (Link will prompt report to download automatically.)
The Board has proposed a 2017-18 budget of $153,690,765, which is an increase of $4,550,406 (4.45%) over the estimated expenditures for 2016-17 (“the current year”), and represents expenditures that are 2.15% higher than the current year’s adopted budget. The largest portion of the increase in the proposed budget over the current year’s budget is salary, which accounts for 87.8%. This is partially offset by a decrease in pension costs of 56.2%. Although the Board has made it clear that it focuses on the educational needs of Scarsdale students and is not influenced by the State cap, the proposed budget shows a tax levy increase of 0.96% and the tax cap is 1.55%.
The use of the expected surplus of revenue over expenditures in the current fiscal year is divided between reinforcing reserves and lowering the necessary tax levy. The District is proposing to use $2,799,432 of the anticipated surplus to reduce the tax levy.
According to the Education Committee’s report, a potential concern, which has been discussed during the budget process, is that the school district is adding staff every year while enrollment is relatively flat. The budget impact is covered by falling pension costs (which can go up fast due to funding requirements, if there is a stock market down turn), and the replacement of highly paid teachers with lower paid, less experienced teachers. This will set up future years with high salary growth rates as the new teachers are receiving the steps contracted increases, while long-term retiring teachers were getting just cost-of-living increases. The long-term plan targeted for next fall should provide better context for future planning. The Education Committee looks forward to the Board's initiative for the Long Range Financial Plan and receiving initial reports along the lines that Superintendent Hagerman spearheaded in Winnetka, Illinois.
Kirkendall-Rodríguez stated, "I am pleased that the budget increase is under the 'cap,' and still provides judicious support of current and improved educational programs.” The proposed 2017-18 budget reflects favorably lower projected expenses in healthcare, pensions and fuel, as well as retirement of some more senior staff. The report commends the Board for judiciously applying the surplus to improve instruction and to provide substantial reserves, while at the same time addressing concerns of taxpayers for prudent fiscal management.
The Education Committee also extends its gratitude to Mayor Dan Hochvert for his service as Co-Chair of the Education Committee and for being the lead writer of this report. He stepped down as Co-Chair on March 31, 2017 to begin his two-year term as Scarsdale Mayor. According to Kirkendall-Rodríguez "I thank Mayor Hochvert for his leadership and hard work on the committee and wish him well in his new role.’
Questions about the Report may be addressed to the Chair, Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez at email@example.com.
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A note about "Expeditious Treatment": A report released under this procedure has been approved by the Board of Directors of the Forum and authorized for release to the public, but it has not yet been submitted to the Forum members for their approval. Members will vote on this report at the next Membership Meeting and Public Forum Thursday May 18th 2017