Pearl River School District Director of Operations Quinton Van Wynen gave a presentation on the district’s budget outlook over the next three years at the board of education’s meeting Tuesday night.
“The next three years look particularly challenging because now we have this two-percent cap where we can do the math and we know the answer before we put all the program information together,” Van Wynen said. “It’s no longer a question of what can we add going forward, but what do we have to change?”
Van Wynen said that the tax cap and other changes haven’t all been bad for the district.
“One of the good things that has come out of a lot the changes in Albany having to do with mandates, and one that actually doesn’t cost a lot of money, is a requirement that we make a concentrated effort to have at least a three-year plan ahead of us so that we can point out to the board and to our taxpayers what the next couple of years looks like,” he said.
He added that he and Pearl River Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Morgano had already started similarly looking forward starting about five years ago. Van Wynen said that looking five or 10 years ahead makes it harder to make solid estimations, but that three years out they really do have a good idea of where they stand. That helps out when planning on what to do year by year.
“Any savings that we put in place in the first year will move out into the future years, the second and the third year,” Van Wynen said. “It’s also important to remember that anything that we defer in the first year, but that we have to spend on, we’re going to get caught in the second or third year.”
Van Wynen added that the use of reserves must be done prudently, and that $500,000 roughly equals about one percent on a tax bill.
“The use of reserves in one year will require that we tax for that money sometime in the future,” he said. “We’re still using it to pay for our costs, for our expenses.”
As of now, Van Wynen said the following figures are the district’s potential deficits moving forward:
- 2013-2014: $1,375,870
- 2014-2015: $2,099, 327
- 2015-2016: $1,936,631
He added that the three-year total would be $5,411,828. Van Wynen also said the district will pay off some bonds completely, but will also have to use bonds to fund capital improvements.
“If we time it right, there may be little impact and we’ll be able to accomplish some things, but we do have an awful lot to manage as far as the infrastructure here in the district,” he said.
Because of all this, Van Wynen said it’s important to to start looking forward now, which Morgano agreed with, noting they usually start this process in December. Morgano added that starting early will possibly give extra time to look at all programs and what can be done moving forward.
“There’s always a focus on what has the least impact on children, but this is not a district with a lot of extra, so anything we cut is going to be is something that has an impact on Pearl River, and naturally on kids,” Morgano said.
School District Policy Reviews, Revisions
Also at the meeting, the board held first readings of more than 30 policy reviews and revisions. Many focused on safety issues, including one of the only policy revisions listed, which states that "skateboarding is prohibited at all school facilities" from now on. The policy change is intended to prevent accidents on school grounds.