BOE draws closer to end of budget development for ’21-22 school year

PINE PLAINS — The Pine Plains Central School District (PPCSD) Board of Education (BOE) edged closer to the end of its budget development process for the 2021-22 school year at the budget workshop held on Wednesday, April 7.

Starting at 7 p.m., the meeting was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After some technical difficulties,  Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Michael Goldbeck projected his presentation on the 2021-22 proposed school budget’s expenditure and revenue budgets. Claiming they were close to the end of the line in terms of budget development, he presented what he hoped was the final budget number, though he acknowledged the district is still waiting on some additional information from a few sources.

Budget went up 1.94%

As of that evening, Goldbeck reported that the total budget has been calculated at $34,176,675, indicating an increase of $651,225 or 1.94% from this year’s budget. 

Next year’s tax levy limit has been calculated at $24,710,043, indicating an increase of $520,367 or 2.15%. 

Meanwhile, the state aid amount has been calculated at $8,031,532, indicating an increase of $1,201,356 (or 17.6%) over what the district budgeted this year. 

However, Goldbeck said the state aid amount includes the reduction of $108,000 in universal pre-kindergarten funds, which are accounted for in the special aid fund and the budgeted 2020-21 state aid reduction of $76,000 — therefore, the actual state aid increase is $441,356 or 5.8% compared to this year’s budget.

Three main components

Looking at the budget’s three main components, Goldbeck reported next year’s administrative budget has been calculated at $3,945,711, signaling a $152,155 (or 4.12%) increase from this year. 

The program budget has been calculated at $27,075,382, signaling a $413,805 (or 1.61%) increase. 

The capital budget has been calculated at $3,155,582, showing an increase of $85,265 or 2.78%.

Taking a closer look at the administrative budget, Goldbeck said the largest amount went toward administration and improvements costs at $1,595,795, followed by employee benefits at $980,459 and central administration and finance costs at $849,230. In addition to the $4,960 reduction in employee benefits, he pointed out the $3,350 increase in BOE costs, which he said was largely materials and some contractual money allocated toward the annual district budget vote.

For the program budget, Goldbeck pointed out a significant reduction of $265,811 in the special education area, totaling $3,802,500 overall. That being said, he told the BOE he was uncomfortable making that amount the final number as he said the district is still in annual reviews through May. He also reminded the BOE that it has a few weeks before it must adopt the budget. 

Moving forward, Goldbeck pointed out the $64,100 increase in occupational education costs (totaling $422,100 overall) and the $11,100 increase in summer school costs, totaling $71,000.

For the capital budget, Goldbeck referred to the $55,240 increase in operations and maintenance costs, totaling $1,912,983; he also pointed out the $30,025 increase in employee benefits, totaling $997,599.

Capital project

After projecting the breakdown of the proposed budget by areas of expenditure and breaking down the revenue budget for the coming school year compared to the current school year, Goldbeck turned the BOE’s attention to funding the district-wide capital project. With the total project cost calculated at $7,727,992, he said the district has $3,506,434 in existing capital reserves, and he strongly recommended the BOE use all of that money to offset the project cost. 

Additionally, he advised it use the 2020-21 year-end fund balance, which he was confident would come to $1.6 million. Assuming that amount works out, he said that would leave $2,621,558 in possible financing. In short, Goldbeck recommended the BOE do short-term borrowing with bond anticipation notes (BANs), which could likely be fully paid off within five years.

In addition to state aid and federal grants, Goldbeck reminded the BOE that the costs for students with special needs, the unsettled Pine Plains Administrative Association contract and possible future borrowing for capital projects are budget factors to consider.

After presumably adopting the budget at its meeting on Wednesday, April 21 (after this paper went to press), the BOE is scheduled to have a public hearing on the 2021-22 budget on Wednesday, May 5, at 7 p.m. 

The annual district meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18; in addition to the 2021-22 budget vote, this year’s ballot will include the district-wide capital project, a proposition to establish a new capital reserve and the election of three new BOE members.

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