Proposed 2020-21 school budget maintains all programs, staffing; may be revisited mid-year
The Mohonasen Board of Education on May 11 approved a proposed $55.78 million budget for the 2020-21 school year. The adopted budget keeps all current staffing and programs and increases the tax levy by 2.88%, the district’s “cap” for the 2020-21 school year.
In an executive order issued on Friday, May 1, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that this year’s school budget vote and board of education election will take place on June 9, exclusively by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ballots may be returned by mail by using the enclosed prepaid return envelope, or placed in a lockbox in the Mohonasen High School lobby between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Ballots must be returned to the district by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9.
All qualified voters will be mailed an absentee ballot. Those qualified voters not on the district’s voter rolls must contact the district to have one mailed to them.
Qualified voters are defined as U.S. citizens who are 18 years or older, have lived in the district for at least 30 days prior to the vote and are not otherwise disqualified to register for, or vote in, an election in accordance with provisions of Section 5-106 of the election law.
The district held a virtual Budget Hearing Tuesday, June 1. Find more information at www.mohonasen.org/budget.
Under the proposed budget, spending would increase by $1.43 million, or 2.62%. Contractual costs such as salaries and other benefits contribute to this year’s spending increases.
The proposed budget carries a tax levy increase of $817,929, or 2.88%, which is at the district’s limit – or cap – as calculated by the state formula. As a result, a simple majority (50% plus one vote) is needed for approval.
The initial state budget indicated an approximate $400,000 increase in Foundation Aid and Community Schools Aid for the district; however, due to the subsequent impact of the coronavirus, the final state budget reduced these increases to last year’s levels. In order to offset this decrease in revenue, the district has allocated an additional $400,000 from the appropriated fund balance. This brings the total fund balance and reserves being used to balance the budget to $2.45 million for 2020-21.
“Our use of fund balance is not sustainable beyond the short-term,” Superintendent Shannon Shine said. “Clearly we are in uncharted waters due to the pandemic and its effects on the state, federal and world economies. For now, we are holding the line, but given the governor’s ability to adjust aid to schools after the budget is adopted, we may have to take the unusual step of revisiting our budget mid-year in order to reduce expenses.”
The 2020-21 proposed budget is a spending plan which represents the maximum amount the district may spend next year; adjustments remain possible throughout the year.
The district was able to realize significant savings on future expenses due to a retirement incentive offered within the recent agreement with the Mohonasen Teachers’ Association. In all, the district will see retirements from 14 teachers, one school counselor and two teaching assistants.
If the proposed budget is approved by voters, the estimated annual tax increase on an average Rotterdam home with a $150,000 full value assessment will be approximately $43.92.