Budget priorities hold firm despite low state aid

Despite state aid decreases, Herkimer CSD remains committed to expanding student opportunities.

The Board of Education will meet Wednesday, April 10, to consider a budget proposal for 2019-20. District officials said it should remain below the district’s tax levy limit of 2.3%. Spending will decrease by about 4% over the previous year.

The budget proposal approved by the board in April will go before voters on May 21. Voters will also elect members to the Board of Education at that time.

Mental health a priority

Key budget priorities for 2019-20 include adding a mental health professional. This change is in response to an increase in mental health needs among students.

“Increasing our mental health staffing and services has become as critical as our nutrition programs in terms of ensuring students are ready to learn at school,” Superintendent Robert J. Miller said.

The district also plans to open up the swimming pool at the Jr./Sr. High School to the community.  District facilities are already available to community organizations and youth sports programs. Opening the pool for public use expands the district’s commitment to serve the greater Herkimer community.

The budget also accommodates rising costs in employee salaries and health care benefits. It maintains programs such as College Art and Project Lead The Way at the Jr./Sr. High School. It preserves the elementary summer program and after-school swim lessons. And it expands student access to computer science, agriculture education and business classes.

How we get there

The district must have a plan for how it will get every dollar it plans to spend. Most district funding comes from state aid and local taxes. If taxes stay below the 2.3% tax levy limit, the money coming in will be about $650,000 less than the district plans to spend.

The district will consider using fund balance to fill this “gap.” The district has included fund balance in its budget for the past several years. The amount has increased in recent years, as state aid has not kept up with local spending priorities.

More information about the budget proposal adopted by the board will be shared after the April 10 meeting. District residents will also receive a budget newsletter in the mail in advance of the budget hearing on May 8.

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