WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. By John F. Bailey.April 7, 2015:
It was back to school in White Plains, New York USA Monday and the White Plains Board of Education has a pleasant problem.
The district has been notified its projected school aid as a result of the passing of the state budget is going from $17.8 Million this year(2014-15) to $22.6 Million, a $4,754,497 increase in school aid over last year where the state gave us just $17,864,500.
This school aid bonanza from the legislature of $4,754,497, (the highest year-to-year increase the district has ever received) is $1,252,322 more than the tax levy increase of $3,502,175 the district has in its proposed budget of $204.670,480 that increases the budget from last year $4,770,480.
This could mean that the school district could keep the tax rate where it was last year ($600.22/$1,000 if the school aid increase is not dictated by the state to be spent in specific ways.
It also could be used to lower the tax rate about 1% (instead of the proposed 2.25% tax increase) to $594 per $1,000 of valuation to give the owner of a $650,000 home a $100 Tax cut from $9,900 to 9,800.
I asked Fred Seiler, Assistant Superintendent for Business, if the $4,754,497 windfall in school aid comes with strings. No matter how you slice it this is found money, since you can keep the budget where it is, and still fund all they proposed to do (most notably 15 new positions), without raising taxes a penny, if they choose to do that.
It should be noted there could be restrictions that the district or the state has not told the district about or that the district has not shared with us.
It should be noted too that if the district earmarks the $4,754,497 for new position hires, infrastructure, etc., it may not be available next year, and any new hires made with that money would have to be funded in the 2016-2017 budget.
Seiler sent this statement to WPCNR Monday:
“I have begun to review the state aid data. The superintendent and I will prepare a recommendation for Board of Education review and action at the Board meeting on April 13th.”