MASSENA — With the state budget now adopted, Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady was able to provide solid numbers during the district’s public hearing on its 2023-24 spending plan.
The budget, which will be put before the voters from noon to 8 p.m. May 16 at the Massena Community Center, carries a 0% tax levy increase.
“I think we have a very sound and responsible budget to put out in front of the voters,” Mr. Brady said during the hearing, which drew no public comment.
The district had held two public budget forums before the state budget was adopted. Now, he said, the numbers they had penciled in for the district budget were firm.
“The final state budget did increase school aid by $2.9 billion. $2.6 billion of that was foundation aid. They kept their commitment to the final phase-in of the foundation aid formula. They fully funded all of the expense-based aids, which is BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) aids,” Mr. Brady said.
He said he was pleased to see that a proposal by Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul to set aside some of the foundation aid to provide high impact tutoring for students in grades three through eight wasn’t included in the final budget.
“We do have services for our students in grades three through eight. We certainly support tutoring, but what we didn’t support was taking a section of our foundation aid and restricting it for a specific purpose, and it was going to be quite a bit of money,” Mr. Brady said.
He said there was a provision in the state budget for districts to provide an annual progress report on how they were working toward zero emission buses. That will begin in the 2024-25 school year.
“As you know, we do have a study through NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority). We have a meeting next week to discuss that with NYSERDA, so we should have more information coming on that. That will give us some good information about moving toward these zero emission buses,” he said.
Mr. Brady said the state budget also carries minimum wage increases from $14.20 to $15, $15.50 and $16 beginning Jan. 1 of 2024 through 2026.
“That will impact our funding for three years starting in 2024,” he said.
Locally, the district received total state aid of $49,755,557, an increase of $7,324,763. That includes $34,462,609 in foundation aid (an increase of $5,036,407); $8,540,573 in expense-based aids (an increase of $731,572); and $6,752,375 in building aid (an increase of $1,556,784).
The district is looking at a $1,519,356 increase in total benefits. They include a $2,244,031 increase in salaries; a $169,734 increase in the Employee Retirement System contribution; a $42,581 increase in the Teacher Retirement System contribution; a $44,600 decrease in workers’ compensation; a $168,169 increase in Social Security; and a $1,183,471 increase in health insurance. The increase also includes money allocated for budget requests.
Projected revenues are $69,362,732, while projected expenses are $69,832,522, leaving a gap of $469,790, which will be covered through the district’s designated fund balance.
In addition to the budget, voters will also be asked to approve the creation of a $9 million capital reserve fund which will be used to assist with the cost of future capital projects. They’ll also be electing two board of education members, one for a five-year term and the second for a three-year term. The candidates are Kayla Lalonde, Joyce Giroux and Zachary Monroe.
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