Special Budget Issue May
Public Schools of the Tarrytowns
A Letter from The Board President The Board of Education has been thoroughly reviewing the 2012/13 school budget since February. However, budget planning in the District began last fall with internal meetings led by the Superintendent who then provided periodic updates to the Board. As you know, at the urging of Governor Cuomo, last year the New York State legislature passed a local property tax cap law to control the growth of local property taxes in New York, including school related taxes. This law will successfully control the growth of the school tax levy but it does not address the cost issues such as salary escalation, health care benefits, and pensions that have caused our local property taxes to increase over the years. Our District, like every school district in New York, will continue to grapple with budgets in the coming years because these critical costs are outside of the Board of Education’s direct control and are currently increasing at a rate in excess of the spending permitted by the tax cap.
program, and to the special education program. In addition, unlike many districts in Westchester County, our student population continues to increase. To maintain elementary class size within the guidelines the Board has established, next year two new class sections will be added to the elementary school program to address enrollment growth: one section in grade two and one section in grade five. At Sleepy Hollow High School, additional laboratory time will be provided in advanced (AP) level science classes. The District has created a total of 7.25 new positions through a combination of additions to staff and redeployment of resources from other programs within the schools. These teaching positions will allow the District to address more effectively the challenges we face in meeting the diverse needs of our student population.
Yet I am pleased to report the core educational offerings of the District remain in place. Moreover, this year, like previous years, the District has made several modifications to the curriculum. To address New York State mandated requirements, the District is adding resources to the mathematics curriculum, to the English as a Second Language
The budget the Board of Education has adopted and you will vote on May 15 calls for a tax levy increase of 2.42%, well within the tax levy cap limit allowed under the new law. Because of new construction, principally on the waterfront in Tarrytown, the tax levy calculation would allow the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns to increase the tax levy by 3.08% for the 2012/13 school year. However, largely because of prudent spending, several staff retirements, and a 6.25% increase in other revenue sources—such as state aid, Westchester County sales tax, and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS)—it is unnecessary to utilize the full amount available to the District. Spending next year will total $66.8 million, a 3.2% increase over this year’s budget. This is a rate of growth equal to the current rate of inflation. Each year the Board carefully reviews spending in all categories of the budget to make certain the District is spending wisely and is competitive with our peer school districts in Westchester County. The Board encourages you to take a close look at this budget and at the school system you support with your tax dollars. We encourage you to become involved and work with us to determine the future direction of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns.
Tuesday May 15 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Where to Vote Tarrytown residents vote at Washington Irving School Sleepy Hollow residents vote at Morse School
2012–13 Budget Facts at a Glance
B. Joseph Lillis, President, Board of Education
Total Proposed Budget.......................$66,827,609 Budget Increase............................................. 3.2% Tax Levy Increase*....................................... 2.42% Tarrytown Tax Rate Increase** ................... 1.97% Sleepy Hollow Tax Rate Increase** ............ 3.12% *Taxy levy increase is in full compliance with the mandated property tax cap levy **Tax rate estimates are based on changes in equalization rates for the towns of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant. Rates will change between now and August due to the impact of ongoing tax certiorari settlements on total property valuation in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow.
Proposed Tax Increase Falls Below Tax Cap The 2012-13 school year will be the first year affected by the property tax levy cap that the state legislature and the governor adopted last year. Under the new law, a school budget that does not require a tax levy increase greater than that allowed by the cap can be passed by a simple majority vote. continued on page 2
Failure to Pass Budget Would Require Major Budget Reduction The new tax cap law eliminates the “contingency budget” option that existed under the old rules. Previously, if a contingency budget was needed following a budget defeat, a budget increase was still permissible but a cap was placed on the percentage of the increase. Under the new law, school districts are still permitted to hold a second vote if their budget is defeated in the initial vote. However, if a budget fails to pass on the second vote, the allowable tax levy is frozen at this year’s level. Reducing the proposed tax levy for next year to this year’s level would require a reduction in next year’s budget of $1,250,000. The bulk of such a reduction could only be achieved by reducing personnel, which would translate to larger classes and reductions of programs and services for students.
Transportation Proposition on May 15 Ballot Tarrytown voters will be asked to approve an additional proposition on the May 15 ballot, which will have no cost impact on the proposed 2012–13 budget. Proposition 2: In order to maintain a safe fleet of vehicles that do not require frequent, expensive repairs, the District follows a vehicle replacement schedule. This proposition, which will have no impact on the 2012–13 budget or tax levy, authorizes the school district to purchase two new buses using surplus funds in the 2011–12 budget. Voter authorization qualifies the District for reimbursement by the state of 39% of the expense.
Tax Levy vs. Tax Rates The tax levy is the total amount of property tax dollars that must be generated in the school district as a whole in order to balance the budget. The proposed tax levy increase for next year is 2.42%. This is less than the allowable increase under the state tax cap legislation of 3.077%. The tax rate is what needs to be applied against the assessed value of each property in order to generate the tax levy. Tax rates are determined by formulas using data that is specific to property in each town. Since Tarrytown is in the Town of Greenburgh and Sleepy Hollow is in the Town of Mount Pleasant, school tax rates for residents of each village are calculated independently by the respective towns. Tax rates are affected by changes in equalization rates used to equate a property’s assessed value to its theoretical “true value,” and changes in the total assessed value of property due to new property being added to the tax rolls or successful tax certiorari proceedings resulting in reduced property assessments. As a result, the portion of the total property valuation “pie” (constituting the school district as a whole) that is attributed to residents of each village can increase or decrease in any given year. For 2012-13, the calculations resulted in a slight increase in the portion of the total property valuation pie represented by Sleepy Hollow properties, so the estimated tax rate increase for Sleepy Hollow property owners ended up being slightly higher than the rate increase for Tarrytown property owners. 2
Public Schools of the Tarrytowns
Proposed Tax Increase Falls Below Tax Cap continued from page 1
If a proposed school budget requires a tax levy increase greater than that allowed by the cap, a 60% “super majority” vote is necessary for the budget to pass. The formula used to determine the actual tax levy limit for each district is somewhat complicated. While it has been commonly referred to as a “2% tax cap,” exclusions of new construction, Payment in Lieu of Taxes increases, and local share of capital debt obligations translates to a tax cap for our school district of 3.077%. However, through a combination of cost savings measures and an increase in state aid, the district was able to balance the proposed budget using a tax levy increase of 2.42%.
Approach to Balancing the Budget Required Priority Setting The rate of increase in certain categories of school spending throughout the state exceeds the allowable tax levy increase rate under the tax cap for most school districts. Some of these categories include state mandated pension contributions, health insurance premiums, tuition costs for special education students served out of district, and utilities and bus fuel costs. Consequently, staying under the tax cap requires making offsetting cost reductions elsewhere in the budget. If any staffing increases are needed, further offsetting cost reductions are required to prevent the tax levy from exceeding the cap. The overall budget was balanced through savings measures coupled with an increase in state aid and in the tax levy. Staffing increases in the proposed 2012-13 school budget were guided by three major considerations: • Compliance with state mandates for services to special needs students, English Language Learners, and students at risk of performing below target proficiency levels on state assessments. • Strengthening of the district’s math and science program.
• Maintenance of the district’s commitment to educationally responsible and regionally competitive class sizes. Funding for the increased staffing required to achieve these goals was made possible by reducing • clerical staffing (replacing 3 retiring secretaries with 2.5 secretaries) • non-mandated instructional staffing in the areas of social work services (retiring .5 Pre-K social worker will not be replaced), • elementary library services (Morse and Washington Irving libraries will be managed by Teacher Assistants) • first grade teacher assistants (the ratio will be changed from 1 TA per classroom to .5 TA per classroom) • high school art offerings (retiring teacher will be replaced by a .5 teacher). • Middle School foreign language staffing (students at risk of performing below target proficiency levels on state math assessments will receive additional math instruction in place of foreign language)
Budget Balancing Summary Savings Administrators covering entire increased cost to district for their health insurance
Cost Increases Salaries (2% on average) Health insurance premium rate Pension contribution rate
Non-instructional employees – Second year of reduced salary increases and increased contributions to health insurance
Special education cost shifts from state & county to school district
Amortization of non-instructional employee retirement system contribution
Teachers contract negotiations are ongoing but cost savings measures are under active consideration.
Personnel Additions .7 ESL teacher 1 Elementary math specialist 1 Middle School math teacher 1 High School math teacher .4 High School social studies teacher 1 grade 2 teacher 1 grade 5 teacher 1 Middle School Special Ed. teacher .25 AP science lab teacher
Materials and supplies Personnel Reductions .5 clerical position .5 Pre-K social worker position .5 High School art position 5 Teacher Assistant positions 1 Elementary librarian position 1 Middle School foreign language position
UFSD of the Tarrytowns 200 North Broadway Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591 www.tufsd.org School News-Cable Channel 77
Non-Profit US Postage PAID Permit #91005 White Plains, NY 10605
Board of Education B. Joseph Lillis,President Vincent Nadile, Vice President Sheila J.Conklin, Trustee Mimi Godwin, Trustee Craig Laub, Trustee Paul Rode, Trustee Katharine M. Swibold, Trustee
Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Howard W. Smith (914) 631-9404 Evelyn McCormack, Editor Maria Ilardi, Art Director
The Public Schools of the Tarrytowns do not discriminate on the basis of sex, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, citizenship, age or disability or any other protected classification in its employment, admissions practices, vocational opportunities or access to and treatment in programs or activities, in accordance with Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Inquiries concerning application of these regulations may be made to the Assistant Superintendent of the UFSD of the Tarrytowns, 200 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. 10591.
Regional Efficiency Rankings 2012–13 The Public Schools of the Tarrytowns have traditionally kept overall spending per pupil in the middle of the range for schools in this region. As indicated by the graph on the right, the cost per pupil for almost every expenditure category falls within the lower half of the range for our region. Another efficiency indicator is the reduction over time of staff in our schools, from 465 employees serving a student population of 2,278 in 2001, to 457 employees serving a student population of 2,859 in 2011–12. Our District serves 25% more students with fewer total staff members than existed a decade ago.
Tarrytowns per-pupil cost ranking among 46 Westchester/Putnam County districts
46th = lowest spending per pupil
1st = highest spending per pupil
Low............................................High Overall cost Property tax $$ Central administration
27th 33rd 36th
Plant operations Transportation
Instructional media (libraries, technology) Pupil services
Co-curricular and sports Employee benefits
Need More Information? For more detailed information about the proposed 2012–13 budget, you can visit the Warner Public Library, where copies are available. In addition, you can find a PDF copy of the proposed budget on the School District website at www.tufsd.org.
Public Schools of the Tarrytowns • Bridges