present Phase IV reductions proposed for 2013-14.
“We have tried to identify a way to reduce that still affords extensive educational opportunities to our students, but within the context of the economic realities in which we live,” he explained.
Once again, Adams reviewed the 2013-14 budget development process and the District’s property tax levy limit calculations to date. Of the District’s $10.7 million projected deficit roll over, $7.2 million is attributed to significant cost drivers such as pension, health insurance, salaries and transportation.
Pension increases alone will total $2.8 million—roughly $700,000 more than will be raised under the revised 1.99% tax levy estimation. Projections indicate that pension costs will reach $10.2 million in 2014-15, double the 2011-12 amount.
Cuts to state aid result in chronic funding loss
As costs have escalated, the District also faces decreased revenues due to the implementation of the Property Tax Levy law and the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a law enacted to help close the state budget deficit through cuts to school funding.
Under the GEA, the Ramapo Central School District has lost $10.5 million in state aid since 2010-11. By shifting costs to the local level, the burden for making up for lost revenues has fallen on our school district and our community.
Phase IV reductions would primarily impact middle and high schools
In formulating Phase IV reductions, District leadership conducted a district-wide review of enrollment and class sizes. The rising sixth-grade class will have 52 fewer students than the smallest current grade at Suffern Middle School; overall middle school enrollment is projected to decrease by 24 students.
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Stephen Walker presented the following Phase IV reductions, which collectively total $1.7 million:
Walker noted that due to decreased enrollments, elimination of the Grade 6 teaching positions would not impact class size. Special Education reductions would not impact IEPs (individualized education plans) and were also based on declining enrollment.
Content area reductions reflect a comprehensive review of course enrollments. Walker said that administrators had determined that efficiencies could be achieved by preserving classes with historically and projected low enrollment by collapsing them into fewer sections.
Outlook beyond 2013-14 is bleak
With implementation of the current proposed reductions, use of reserves and tax levy of 1.99%, the District could still face estimated deficits of $6.6 million in 2014-15 and $12 million in 2015-16.
Adams and Board President Craig Long thanked those in attendance and asked that they continue to voice their suggestions and ideas.
The fourth budget workshop will be held on April 4 at 6:30pm at the Administrative Offices in Hillburn.
Community members are invited to attend upcoming budget workshops to stay informed about the budget development process. Although there is no opportunity for public comment during Board workshops, questions and comments regarding the budget may be expressed during the public comment portion of regular Board of Education meetings and via email.
Please note that the next regular Board of Education meeting will be held on April 2 at 7:30pm.