Franklin Square School District Superintendent Patrick Manley gave his insight last week about the budget for the upcoming school year:
•Educational enhancements at an amount less than the tax levy limit
The New York State Tax Levy Limit Legislation was introduced into law on June 24, 2011. Beginning with the 2012-13 budget the Franklin Square UFSD, like all school districts in the State of New York, is subject to a maximum allowable tax levy increase. This maximum allowable tax levy increase is assigned to each District through a District specific formula created by government of New York State. Franklin Square’s minimum allowable tax levy increase is 3.37% which translates into an expenditure increase of 3.28%.
•The Franklin Square UFSD 2013-14 budget is in compliance with the tax levy limit legislation
This year, once again, mandated retirement costs pose a significant obstacle in developing the budget. The Franklin Square UFSD is facing a $758,168 increase in these mandated costs for 2013-14. The District has worked diligently to find other areas of savings that will allow us to afford these mandated costs while not sacrificing the quality of our educational program or staff.
The Board of Education adopted a proposed budget with an expenditure increase of 3.28% or $1,128,471. The majority of this increase, $758,168, represents mandated increases in retirement costs. The remaining $370,303 represents all other spending. This includes the funds needed to operate our buildings and academic programs under their current structure, as well as costs to enhance our District through the introduction of a Prekindergarten Program and the phasing in of the 1:1 computing initiative.
The 2013-14 Budget Proposal begins to address the NYS Mandate that requires our children to take their standardized exams on computers in the 2014-15 school year. Funds are included in this budget to upgrade our aging network infrastructure, specifically our wireless internet capabilities, in order to facilitate this requirement. Additionally, in the 2013-14 budget the District has introduced a 1:1 Computing Initiative to begin purchasing the devices on which the students will be required to take their standardized exams. The District’s vision is to utilize the devices in a way that enhances the differentiated instruction of every child in their classroom, therefore enriching their learning experience and achievement level. Due to the utilization of existing funds to aid new initiatives, all technology expenditures will represent an increase of $73,330 to the budget.
The District is also proposing the implementation of a half-day Prekindergarten Program in its 2013-14 budget. Again, the District was able to utilize savings found in other areas of the Budget to put this program into operation for a small budgetary increase. Staff salary freezes have played a major part in our ability to add new programs for our children at a minimal cost to the taxpayers. The motivation behind the Prekindergarten Program echoes the sentiments expressed by our political and educational leaders, as well as our neighboring communities, about the need for such programs in public school. The implementation of a Prekindergarten Program will allow us to better prepare our children for the rigor of the Common Core Curriculum. Additionally it will also provide the District with future cost savings. As stated by New York State Commissioner of Education John King, “Every dollar invested in prekindergarten programs produces savings to taxpayers of approximately $7 through reduction of remediation, special education, welfare, and criminal justice services.”
As always, a commitment to maintaining excellent programs and keeping Franklin Square’s school taxes among the lowest in Nassau County have been the guiding forces in the development of the 2013-14 budget. Multi-year financial planning, such as the use of reserve funds, has helped greatly in reaching this goal. These financial decisions coupled with a devotion to the well-being of our children, as demonstrated through staff pay freezes, allow us to present a 2013-14 budget that enhances programs, facilities, and transportation at a total operational expenditure increase of 1.08% or $370,303. The addition of mandated retirement costs bring the total budget to budget increase to 3.28% and the tax levy increase to 3.37%. A tax levy increase of 3.37% is within the guidelines of the property tax levy legislation that requires a simple voter majority for approval. The estimated tax impact of the 2013-14 Budget is a $107 increase in taxes on the average home in Franklin Square. Retirement costs account for $72 of this increase and all other spending, including the Pre-Kindergarten Program and the 1:1 Computing Initiative, accounts for only $35.