presentation delivered by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas Adams and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Steve Walker.
Adams reviewed the 2013-14 budget development process begun last August 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—nearly $800,000 more than will be raised under the current 2.01% tax levy estimation.
Proposed Phase I non-personnel reductions that were presented at the February 20 budget workshop were also reviewed. With Phase I reductions, anticipated tax revenues and use of $1.5 million in reserve funds, the District’s budget gap would be narrowed to $5.3 million, to be resolved either through increased revenues, staffing reductions or a combination of the two.
Adams noted that if no reductions were made, a 10.61% tax levy increase would be required to cover the deficit.
“However, since property assessed value has declined, the property tax rate will likely increase two to three percent,” he cautioned. “Adding that to a 10.61% school tax levy increase means that taxpayers would likely see tax increases of 13% or 14%.”
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Steve Walker presented the Phase II and III recommended reductions, noting that while the difficult fiscal situation is unprecedented in Ramapo Central, other school districts statewide have been grappling with similar challenges over the past few years.
Walker stated that the District’s capacity is being eroded as it begins to eliminate non-mandated programs due to restrictions on funding needed to fulfill mandates and contractual obligations.
“Ramapo Central has an opportunity to change the trajectory, if we take the necessary steps,” he said.
Reductions due to retirements and attrition comprise the Phase II recommendations and would result in a savings of $657,728 for the coming school year. The District recommends that the following five full-time equivalent (FTE) vacancies not be replaced with new hires: Secondary Social Studies teacher, Secondary World Language teacher, Speech/Language Pathologist, Special Education Teacher and Custodial Worker.
Proposed Phase III staffing reductions would provide additional savings of $2.9 million and were outlined as follows:
Even with Phase I-III reductions, revenues generated by staying under the tax levy limit and use of $1.5 million in reserves, a $1.7 million deficit remains—and benefits costs will still increase $3.3 million for 2013-14.
“Our task is to determine budget priorities which strike a balance between an ideal educational program and the economic reality of the District’s fiscal ability to support the program,” said Adams.
Phase IV reductions, which will primarily impact teaching staff, will be presented at the next budget workshop on March 19 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.