Mount Sinai residents finally have the full view of their school district budget, coming up on the annual vote in May.
The Mount Sinai School District continued its presentation of its proposed 2019-20 school budget at a district board meeting March 20. The March presentation gave residents the remaining 78 percent of the total budget.
The total proposed budget figure for the 2019-20 school year will be $60,926,615, which is a slight increase of 1.2 percent from last year’s amount. This year will also see a tax cap increase of 2.17 percent and the district’s tax levy amount would increase close to $900,000.
At the meeting, Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said the fund balance would decrease this year. For the 2017-18 school year, $5 million was transferred to capital projects to which the public approved to cover a new turf field, bleachers, press box, field events fencing and one-third of a new roof for the high school.
“The board wants to set a capital reserve of $850,000,” Brosdal said.
Including the $750,000 in funds put last year in capital reserve, the district will have $1.6 million for future capital projects. Brosdal proposed to use $1.5 million for two projects: the cost of another partial repair of the high school’s roof and to replace the middle school’s HVAC system.
“This room here, if you recall, last spring we had to move out of this room to the high school because the HVAC system died last year,” the superintendent said. It caused a lot of hot surrounding classrooms, and [it’s something] you can’t fix, it has to be replaced.”
The district’s $25 million bond failed to pass in December, 2018 with a vote of 664-428. The district said it had intended to use the bond to fix the high school roof, along with providing new classrooms to some aging parts of the school buildings.
Residents will be able to vote on the potential capital projects in May.
Another issue discussed was student enrollment. According to Brosdal, the district will see a steady decrease in the number of students it has in its schools.
The current student population is 2,240, and by 2022-23 the district enrollment could drop to 1,909.
“The numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate,” Brosdal said.
The superintendent said the problem can already be seen in the kindergarten level. The current kindergarten class has a total of 142 students and next school year they are only projecting 89 students.
“Should these numbers bear fruit, it will have ramifications all over the schools,” he said. “We have to look at everything and be fiscally sound. It’s going to affect a lot of decisions that have to be made.”
Other highlights of the meeting were that the Teacher Retirement System rate decreased to 8.86 percent, and district officials said they will likely save over $376,000.
“We are lucky that the teachers retirement system didn’t hammer us this year,” Brosdal said. “It went down significantly from last year.”
The district will look to improve outside lights at schools and parking lots, citing visibility issues and will be bidding again for a security company for the high school. The district is looking for four armed and two armed guards.
Brosdal said they are not certain on the exact amount they will receive in state aid. In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) initial executive budget the district would receive $18,251,235. But with Cuomo considering proposing a new budget, the district won’t have an exact number until April.
The next budget meeting will be on April 17, and the district must adopt a budget in time for a community vote on May 14.