As William Floyd prepares to collect votes on its annual budget on June 9, much still remains unknown regarding what monies will be available, from where, and for how long.
“All assumptions that we had were completely changed,” said David Beggins, assistant superintendent for business, explaining how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the budgeting process for next year.
The district is still waiting on guidance from the state government, which has entered into a three-phase review of aid allotments for districts for the 2020-2021 school year. State aid makes up for about half of Floyd’s budget, and cuts to that portion would be tough for the district, Beggins said. The district is being optimistic, but cautious, in creating this year’s budget. The year-to-year budget has a decrease of 0.30 per- cent, for a total of $245,606,611. The tax levy is 1.5 percent increase compared to last year, almost 2 percent under the allowable cap, which is 3.49 percent (based on the state formula of 2 percent growth from the previous year). The tax will increase by $92.26 per year for the average assessed home of $1,995, which is about $1.75 per week or $0.25 cents per day. The low increase is due to “fiscally conservative” moves, according to officials, including a hiring freeze for non-mandated positions.
“We’re being fiscally sensible for our community,” Beggins said.
According to Floyd superintendent Kevin Coster, the goal was to maintain programs that have been added over the years and have contributed to increased student success. There are also no major cuts to programs for the next year. But the budget that residents will vote on is based on what the district knows so far, based on state and federal guidance. Years in the future are also uncertain, Coster added, since budgets usually try to look at least three to five years into the future. There is also no clear path for if the budget fails. Usually, a second, reduced budget would be presented for another vote, but there has been no guidance from the state on next steps. If the budget fails, it will require an additional $1.5 million in cuts.
“This budget cycle has been anything but normal,” Coster said.
Even the delay of the vote has changed the budget dynamic. Coster said the district is usually finalizing hires and preparing for the new year around this time, since the budget and trustee vote is in mid-May.
Should more cuts come from the state, the district will update its budget accordingly, which will be more difficult as the schoolyear begins.
“Not knowing is extremely painful,” Beggins said.