The 2023-24 proposed $101.8 million Lynbrook School District budget was created to soften the blow of the eventual loss in financial aid from New York state over the next few years.
Paul Lynch, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance, presented the proposed spending plan at a budget work session on March 1. The Lynbrook Board of Education was there with Lynch to publicly deliberate the proposed budget and vote to remove or add certain items if need be.
The district’s proposed $101.8 million spending plan is 5.1 percent larger than this year’s $96.9 million budget.
The increase in the tax levy — the amount that the district can raise in revenue through property taxes — will fall under the state’s allowable limit by about $1.5 million. The estimated tax levy increase is 2.6 percent, which technically exceeds the state cap of 2 percent, but the proposed budget has multiple exclusions that will allow it to be approved with a simple majority.
According to Lynch, state aid will drop considerably next year. He is not only focusing on next year’s budget, but is hoping to alleviate the financial burdens in future budgets. This is why the 2023-24 budget is nearly $5 million more than the current year’s.
“This is the single most important budget that I have prepared in 10 years,” Lynch said. “There is so much in this budget, and so many mistakes that could be made at this juncture with the budget, that it’s kind of scary.”
The spending plan is large because of aid from the federal government and the state due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“All of that is about to end,” Lynch said. “The board has done a three-year plan to make sure that financial cliff in 2025 does not happen.”
With a projected increase of 24 percent, or $19 million, state aid greatly influenced this proposed budget. State aid helped the school integrate multiple programs in the budget. “The wonderful Owl Success Acaeeeeedemy was done on grant money and it’s now successfully integrated into the budget,” Lynch said.
Along with the Owl Success Academy, other programs like social work and mental health support, Sound-Write and Itchy’s Alphabet are part of the budget.
New courses have also been introduced in the budget including a course about drones, AP pre-calculus, business law, woodworking at Lynbrook High School, and a health class for the fifth grade. The last two programmatic priorities in the budget are an increase in funding for assemblies and field trip transportation as well as an introduction of an elementary lunch program.
Lynch also integrated federally funded staff into the school budget. “The guidance counselor at the high school remains fully integrated into the budget,” Lynch said. “The special education teacher at Marion Street is now fully integrated into the budget. The second half of the full time social worker that we started last year is now fully integrated into the budget. Same thing with the psychologist. Same thing with the reading teacher. Same thing with the speech teacher.”
The proposal also accounts for seven new teacher aides, two teacher assistants, and an occupational therapist fully dedicated to students’ needs. Also, 12 security guards are integrated into the budget to account for their presence for both during school and for after-school activities.
Increases to the athletics and health budget will lead to “more kids moving more often,” Lynch explained. The weight training room and equipment will be open to students every day of the week. Additions of several coaches were proposed, including an assistant varsity football coach, an assistant varsity cheerleading coach, and coaches for the new middle school programs of boys’ volleyball, girls’ gymnastics, and girls’ flag football.
Capital improvement projects include the renovation of two classrooms at Marion Street and two classrooms at West End. Also in the capital projects budget is $500,000 toward the renovation of the elementary schools’ cafeterias to accommodate an integrated lunch program.
“So the cafeteria improvement project would involve buying cafeteria equipment, hot and cold serving tables for all of the elementary schools and the kindergarten center,” Lynch said.
Along with this proposed budget, voters will also vote on additional propositions. These include a $464,179 expenditure from the Technology Reserve, which will fund the completion of new wiring at West End and Marion Street. This has no impact on the upcoming levy.
Proposition 4, a $1.8 million expenditure from the Facilities Reserves, will fund replacements of the doors at Marion Street and West End, the high school elevator, and the South Middle bathroom and blacktop. This will also have no impact on the upcoming levy.
The budget will be adopted during the March 8 Lynbrook Board of Education meeting. A budget hearing will take place on May 3 before the final budget vote on May 16.