RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- The budget for the Blind Brook-Rye Union Free School District may increase $897,309, or 2.18 percent, next year to $42,149,548.
The proposed budget submitted by Superintendent William Stark calls for a tax levy increase of 1.679 percent, which is under the governor's tax levy cap. Stark said that the budget is a preliminary one, and will likely be adjusted by the Board of Education before being voted on by the public in May.
The largest driver of the increase is contractual labor costs, which represent 89 percent of the budget-to-budget increase. Salaries are expected to increase $402,824 and benefits costs are expected to increase $392,531. Pension costs are also increasing, and Stark said that the effect of the Affordable Care Act is not yet fully known.
"I think we're going to end up with more money from the state, because this is an election year and Gov. Cuomo has offered up his idea of state aid," Stark said. Cuomo has announced that Blind Brook will receive about 3 percent more money from the state next year, but Stark said that it will still be about 7 percent less than the district received before the recession hit.
"This is a very long recovery, so to speak, and as somebody who taught economics for over 20 years, I can tell you the cost of living has risen in a number of areas substantially since 2008-9."
The district will be adding a couple special education teachers, as well as an administrator who will handle a lot of scheduling, paperwork and oversight for testing, teacher evaluations, and other work required by state mandates. Stark said that principals often spend a lot of their time on this work, detracting them from their other duties, and that this position will alleviate that pressure.
The 2015-16 school year will be the final year of the current teacher contracts, and the district could also lose some PILOT money. Stark said that the district will have monitor the situation, and that the state may have to make some changes in terms of mandate relief in order for the district to stay below the tax cap.