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Education

Lancaster Central School District budget work session; Part I: Current budget draft status
By Lee Chowaniec
Mar 14, 2012, 09:47
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Prior to Assistant Superintendent for Business & Support Services Ms. Jamie Phillips PowerPoint presentation on the preliminary budget, which already has been posted on the Lancaster Central School District (LCSD) website for review, Superintendent Edward Myszka cautioned the attendees that this was a preliminary budget and the process had a few more work sessions to go before the final budget will be presented to the public on April 17, 2012. “This is still a work in progress and contrary to rumors, this is still a work session.”

Superintendent Myszka spoke on the Legislature’s proposal on distributing the $250 million state aid in different manner than what Governor Andrew Coumo is considering performance grants. The Legislature is suggestion distributing $200 million using the old format and using $50 million towards performance grants for the remainder. Mr. Myszka declared the present budget shortfall at $538,000. If the old format of distribution was used LCSD could expect another $200,000 to $300,000 in state aid.

Myszka declared that there was consensus on both sides of the aisle in the Legislature that the state budget would be on time (April 1, 2012) and if that happened the district would receive the final state aid numbers, hopefully something on the 7th or 8th of April. “The rumors out there are that the tax rate increase is going to be 5.86%. That’s the problem with taking these preliminary figures out of context. The Board of Education (BOE0 is working diligently to bring a budget to this community that will maintain and support all programs in this district.

Ms. Phillips then gave her PowerPoint presentation which has already been posted on the LCSD website:

Budget

Budget highlights:

2012-13 Draft Expenditure Budget $92.06 million

Increase of $4.46 million over 2011-12 budget; 5.09% increase in spending

Compared to budgeted revenues, a $538,925 deficit exists

Estimated tax levy increase of $1.64 million; a 3.76 increase that meets increase allowed under tax cap guidelines for LCSD

$2.2 million in cuts have already been made to get to this part of the budget draft

Draft Expenditure increases/decreases from last year’s budget - Allocated by budget area:

• General Support – decrease of $335,792; -2.99%
• Instruction (49% of total budget) – increase by $2.93 million; 6.85%
• Transportation – decrease of $277,188; -4.16%
• Undistributed (Employee benefits and debt service) – increase of $2.15 million; 7.96%
• Total Budget increase - $4.46 million; 5.09%

Instructional Salaries increase in the budget by $2.43 million; 8.28% - Would have been a 4.7% increase but LCSD no longer receives the federal JOBS grant money, therefore the $1.7 million loss of revenue allocated to create or save jobs will be to be placed back in the school general fund budget. That $1.73 million in federal JOBS grant money translated into saving near 27 full time staff positions. Losing that grant money increased the school budget from 3.17% to 5.09%.

Instructional employees are administrators, teachers, counselors, psychologists, guidance counselors, anyone with state or professional certification.

Non Instructional Salaries increase by $510,146; 4.06% - would have been only a 3% increase, same explanation as aforementioned. Non instructional support staff include clerical, aides, bus drivers, maintenance, etc.

LCSD received $531,289 more in state aid this year than in the previous budget – much less than the $1+ million stated in the media. This number is likely to change should the Legislature prevail in putting $200 million back in the regular state aid formula. Myszka declared he would welcome more state aid to keep the programs in place and to keep the taxpayers happy.

Over the last several years, the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment has docked LCSD’s state aid over $5 million in aid each year. $5 million less and the yet the district is expected to keep all programs in place.

Whereas LCSD used $5.55 million in reserves in the 2011-12 to reduce the budget gap, it estimates using $5.69 million for the 2012-13 budget; an increase of $140,256.

Whereas LCSD used $3.3 million in Fund Balance money to close the budget gap in the 2011-12 budget, it estimates using $4.1 million for this year’s budget; an increase of $800,000.

In total, LCSD estimates it will be using $9.79 million in fund balance and reserves to close the budget gap.

In closing, M. Phillips restated that the Total Expenditure Budget came in at $92,061,022. As of this work session the Total Revenue Estimate is $91,522,077. There is a Current Revenue Shortfall of $538,925.

When asked where this shortfall puts the district in line with the 3.76% allowed increase in the tax levy, Ms. Phillips replied “to be right at the 3.76 tax levy increase limit, we need to cut $538,925.”

Ms. Phillips closed by reviewing the remaining schedule process:

• Review potential cuts to balance budget
• Further budget adjustments
• Final state aid budget numbers (Apr 1 if state budget is on time
• Final version of budget presented on April 17, 2012
• Educate community about 2012-13 budget

Next: Part II: Public and BOE comments

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