Clarkstown School District Assistant Superintendent John
LaNave shared dismal seven-year financial projections for the district at
Tuesday night’s Clarkstown School Board meeting. Although the presentation was
overshadowed by the concerns of the hundreds of parents and residents attending
the meeting because of the closure of Congers Elementary School, a number of
them did volunteer to join community workshops.
LaNave showed a slide of census data with enrollment dropping in the district over the 10-year period. He said students entering kindergarten in 2007 numbered 499 a figure that was projected to decrease to 293 by 2017.
LaNave said there was a seven percent increase in the 2013-2014 school year budget over the 2012-2013 spending plan but that was not a rate the district could sustain. The district used about $9 million from its reserve fund to close the gap between revenues and expenses for this year's budget. LaNave said he and district administrators are trying to underspend the budget so less is actually used from reserves.
He said the reserve fund is being depleted and there may be enough money to get through the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school budgets.
“The current trajectory of expense is too steep compared to (the) current trajectory of revenues,” he said.
The choices facing the district will be to raise taxes possibly above the two percent property tax cap or cut expenses. LaNave said the wide gap between projected expenses and revenues could be decreased significantly if $10 million is cut from future budgets. He noted there will be challenges with the district’s health care provider seeking a 23 percent increase and contracts with the district’s eight unions that will be up for renegotiations in the 2014-2015 school year.
Board President Mike Aglialoro asked for volunteers to join community workshops on the budget. He said there would be two subgroups with 10 to 15 members each that would represent a broad cross-section of the community – residents, empty nesters, seniors, teachers and union officials.
“One of those subgroups is going to be charged with looking at options at our elementary schools and the other subgroup is going to look at options at our middle school and high schools,” he said.
Aglialoro said he hoped to have a list of volunteers by the October 10th board meeting with the workshops beginning the following week. He said the workshops would be open to all community members.
“Hopefully as a community we can come up with ideas,” said Aglialoro. “And at the very least we’ll all be informed as we head into budget season when we need to make some decisions.”
Board member Joe Malgieri requested that an email blast be sent to all Clarkstown parents to make them aware of the opportunity to participate in the budget process. Anyone interested in volunteering for the subgroups can contact District Clerk Lilyane Lorusso at firstname.lastname@example.org.