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Sewanhaka officials propose $215 million 2021- 22 spending plan

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Programming costs would account for the majority of the Sewanhaka Central High School District’s 2021 -22 school year budget under a proposal Kevin O’Brien, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations presented to the public at a virtual Board of Education meeting on Feb. 23.

Programming costs — which include funds for instruction, school libraries, pupil personnel services, health services, extracurricular activities and transportation —would account for about 75 percent of the district’s $215.5 million proposal, with administrative costs (including personnel salaries, insurance prices and curriculum development expenses) and capital expenses (including those to pay for security, pay off the district’s debts and for building improvements) both accounting for 12 percent of the budget.

Together, these expenses would contribute to a $6.2 million, or a 2.99 percent, increase in expenditures over the current budget.

But Capital expenditures related to building improvements would actually decrease by about $408,000 — or 1.57 percent — under the budget proposal, when compared to the current budget.

Sewanhaka district officials invested $1.8 million from its budget this year in security enhancements, including the installation of security vestibules — which prevent guests from entering a building without proper identification — and enhanced lock systems that require faculty members to swipe a key card for access to classrooms and offices.

Next year, O’Brien said, district officials will continue to make building improvements at all five schools, but the costs will not be as high. He expects that the district would spend just $1.5 million from the proposed budget for the:

Addition of two boilers at Elmont Memorial High School.

Replacement of some sports lockers at H. Frank Carey.

Replacement of the gym wall padding at H. Frank Carey.

Replacement of six exterior doors at H. Frank Carey.

Addition of storage under the bleachers at H. Frank Carey.

Renovation of the small, upstairs gymnasium at Sewanhaka High School.

Reparation of the masonry at Sewanhaka High School.

These expenses would be funded in part by a $153.9 million tax levy — an increase of 1.11 percent over the current levy.

The Sewanhaka Central High School District is also expected to receive $43.9 million in state aid, including $2.36 million in coronavirus aid, under the executive budget Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed in January. These figures, however, are subject to change as the district’s budget process progresses over the next few months.

Coronavirus aid would come from the federal government as part of its stimulus program, and would be allocated to local governments to avoid cuts to education spending, tax hikes and layoffs.

Additionally, O’Brien said at the meeting, district officials would use money left over from the current budget to help fund next year’s increase, and are expected to receive $3.2 million in payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, payments.

Under a PILOT agreement, a business is pulled off of tax rolls and pays local tax authorities a negotiated amount instead. As a result, a school district’s tax base usually decreases. In a centralized high school district, where the elementary school districts collect taxes for the high school district, the tax burden for the high school district shifts onto the elementary school districts.

The Sewanhaka Board of Education will be holding another budget presentation on March 28 at 8 p.m., and will hold its annual hearing on the budget proposal on May 4. It will be up for a vote on May 18.