Posted by Shelly O'Boyle on 5/14/2018 9:00:00 PM
Budget Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions have been asked during the Frewsburg Budget Hearing or as I have talked to people while visiting establishments within the community. I thought that it would be helpful to provide a frequently asked question blog post to share the answers.
Have a question not answered below? Please contact me at 716-569-7041, respond to this blog post, or post a message on Facebook. I welcome the opportunity to have a discussion with you or provide an answer for you.
Q. Where does the money come from to support the budget?
63% State Aid
31% Tax Levy
3% Appropriated Fund Balance
3% Miscellaneous Revenue
The district’s financial status is heavily dependent on state aid which accounts for 63% - 65% of the district’s revenue each year. Frewsburg received a 2.68% increase in state aid from last year. Keep in mind, however, how many items, with increasing rates, are in the budget that we do not have control over: health insurance rates, contractual salary increases, cost of fuel, etc. These increases are far more than the increase seen in our state aid. The administrative staff worked to decrease the overall budget by $456,151 or (-2.61%) as compared to last year’s budget. However, in order to preserve programs, we are proposing an increase to the tax levy of 2.36%, which is slightly below the allowable tax levy increase. Because the district is staying below the property tax levy cap, eligible home owners will receive a rebate check from NYS Tax and Finance next fall.
Q. Why do salaries and benefits comprise so much of the budget?
A. Education is a people business. It takes many people to create and maintain a safe and productive learning environment for nearly 800 children in two schools. Frewsburg employees teach, transport, coach, and care for the children of our community. They clean the buildings, mow the playing fields, order the supplies, and make the decisions so that our schools run effectively and efficiently. Frewsburg has nearly 150 employees, including many part-timers.
Q. How is the annual school budget proposal developed?
A. Developing a budget for a future school year is a year-round process. It typically begins in the fall with a review of the previous year’s expenditures and the educational priorities. District administrators look at the cost of Frewsburg educational programs, the success of those programs, and how these programs align with the district’s priorities. Over several months, school building administrators also work with their teachers and support staff to develop individual building budgets and to identify program spending areas that could be more efficient. They share that information with our Business Manager, Jerome Lee Yaw, and me.
Other factors that have an effect on the annual school budget are considered and include increasing costs associated with meeting state and federal mandates, changes in state and federal aid, and economic trends that affect the local tax base. Contractual obligations, whether for employee bargaining units or service providers, are also taken into account and can be projected based on the commitments previously agreed upon. Other factors that come into play include enrollment data, special education needs, and the calculation of the district’s tax levy limit.
A draft budget proposal is presented to the school board in February and again in March. In April, once the Executive Budget has been adopted, the Board of Education adopts a final budget for eligible district residents to vote on in mid-May.
Q. Why does the district purchase buses every year?
A. The district has adopted the practice of replacing it’s buses every 6 - 7 years. It has been determined that if buses are kept longer than that, the value for sale or trade-in goes down drastically.
Additionally, after 6 - 7 years the maintenance cost of buses increases substantially. There is also the greater chance of body deterioration due to weather conditions.
The NYS DOT inspects and approves all buses for use of transporting students. The district prides itself on having a near perfect inspection passing percentage. The age of our bus fleet (7 years max) goes a long way in ensuring that all our buses pass DOT inspections and are available for use. More importantly, though, our buses are safe for our kids.
Q. Why does the district purchase large buses instead of small buses?
A. Although no longer a requirement, the district bus fleet ensures that there’s a seat on a bus for every student that is eligible for district transportation. We recognize that not all students actually ride the bus, but we continue to have room on the bus for them.
Remember, too, all of our buses are used for transporting students to various events, such as athletics contests and field trips. If we did not have full size buses, the district would be paying for multiple drivers to drive multiple small buses in order to get all of the students to the destination. By having full size buses available for these purposes, the district saves the cost of multiple drivers.
Additionally, the cost of a full size bus is actually not a lot more than a smaller bus, and the fuel efficiency is very similar.
Q. Why do I see empty school buses?
A. When you seen an empty school bus, it is likely just beginning or has just finished its pick-up route, or it may be a bus transporting students to schools out of the district. Don’t forget, buses have high-back seats and high windows which may prevent you from seeing our smallest students.
Q. What is the Proposition #3 Capital Reserve?
A. Frewsburg voters previously approved the establishment of a Capital Reserve on May 16th, 2016. This reserve was set up to provide funding of the District’s Local Share of allowable future capital projects. This proposal is asking voters for approval to use $189,044 from this reserve to pay the district’s required share of the Erie 2 Boces Capital Project. Lacking approval or if there was no reserve, the District will have to either use money from Fund Balance or finance it through Bonds.
Please exercise your right to vote tomorrow, May 15 from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the lobby of the new gym.