District residents have the final say on the annual school budget when they vote in May. Prior to that vote, several steps and a lot of work must take place to craft a balanced budget proposal.
The Valley Central School District Board of Education, comprised of elected volunteers from the community, sets goals for education in the district every year. Those goals help the district measure its success in relation to meeting community and state education standards. The school board and superintendent use them to guide the budget process and to help prioritize budget items.
An important part of planning for the future is reflecting on the past. Early in the budget process, the school board and superintendent review data on current student enrollment, academic performance and costs to operate the district, including employee salaries and benefits. They also consider trends in the costs of supplies (e.g., fuel, electricity, etc.) and outside services (e.g., BOCES programs). Some items on the cost side are not known until the end of the calendar year and many others are mandated by state law but not funded. Learn more about State mandates here.
Budget to Budget Increase
The School Business Official will compare the budget to budget increase when he explains the budget to the Board of Education. The budget to budget increase shows the spending increase from the current budget to the one proposed for the next year as dictated by the operational costs of the district.
Building a budget, of course, is not just about expenses. The school board and superintendent also research revenue trends. That means looking at trends in State Aid, researching changes in the local tax base and the challenges facing residents and business owners who provide the funds for the school tax levy.
While the School Business Official can “guesstimate” what the district might receive in State Aid based on enrollment, trends and research, the actual figure is not known until the state budget is adopted on April 1. Currently, State Aid accounts for about 36% of the district’s revenues. See the history of VC’s State Aid here.
Another important factor in determining the revenue sources of the district is to calculate the tax levy limit. The tax levy accounts for about 58% of the district’s revenues. The tax levy limit is a complicated calculation of several different factors including CPI. Learn more about tax levy limit here.
About 9% of district’s revenues come from other sources part of which are PILOTS. A PILOT is an entity or business that has asked for a “Payment in lieu of taxes” instead of paying their full assessed property taxes in exchange for a promise to develop that property to the advantage of either the Town or County granting it. Learn more about the PILOTS that effect Valley Central here.
The Superintendent proposes a budget that takes into consideration the obligations of the district to provide a sound education while balancing the needs and concerns of the community. The proposed budget is presented at Board of Education meetings in the months of February and March. A final budget proposal is held to present the budget with any adjustments that were made during the proposal process.
Adoption of A Budget
The Board of Education adopts the budget for presentation to the public for the required budget vote in April. A public budget hearing is held and information about the budget is shared with the public on the website and through a newsletter.
Statewide Budget Vote
State law requires that a public budget vote is held every year on the third Tuesday in May.