Saturday, March 27, 2010

State of the State of the Ed - Superintendent Carter


Hoboken Superintendent's letter to Citizens and Staff 

Dear Citizens and Staff,

There is a famous line from an old classic movie which reads, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this.”  In our case, though, it is good for us to meet like this so that I can keep you apprised of what is happening in terms of the budget process.  The Board of Education unanimously approved a tentative spending plan for the 2010-2011 School Year.  The bottom line is that there will be NO INCREASE in the tax levy for the operation of the Hoboken Public Schools.  This GOOD NEWS occurred despite the current $660,000 loss of current state aid, and the $2.4 million reduction in the 2010-2011 State Aid.  At the Budget Hearing on Tuesday, the data will show current appropriations of $62,013,193, but next year’s appropriations shall be $57,882,147. That’s it!  There is no more to be said.  If this proposed and advertised budget is passed by the Board on the 30th, you have no increase in the tax levy with a lower spending plan.

As presented by the Interim School Business Administrator at the Board’s Budget Workshop on March 22nd, this proposed budget is based in part on the following assumptions:
  1. The board’s budget goal of reducing the tax levy without impacting the educational program still remains in effect. 
  2. The state cut this year’s state aid by $669,000 effective February 22, 2010 without any advance warning.
  3. The state told districts to anticipate state aid cuts for next year of up to 15% of our current state aid total, a cut of $1,400,000 for Hoboken.
  4. The state then cut 5% of the total budget with no advance warning, a total cut of $2,400,000 for Hoboken or $1,000,000 more than we were told to anticipate. This is a 26% cut compared to the Hudson County average of 8%.
  5. The projected balance to be used as revenue in the 2010-11 budget is $2,100,000, an increase of $700,000 over this year’s total of $1,400,000.
  6. The proposed budget for next year includes almost $900,000 from two one time revenues, a $535,000 revenue from a textbook lease program and a $355,000 revenue from the use of second year ARRA federal carryover money.
  7. The projected unreserved, unrestricted fund balance estimated for June 30, 2010 is just over $100,000 dollars.
  8. The proposed budget for 2010-11 estimates miscellaneous revenues which more closely parallel actual revenues in past fiscal years.
  9. The proposed 2010-11 budget includes 14 staff cuts including two (2) principals, one (1) vice principal, one (1) director and ten (10) teachers. Staff reductions will be achieved through attrition due to eighteen (18) retirements, twelve (12) filed and six (6) in process. 
  10. The proposed budget includes a reduction in utilities due to the temporary closing of Connors for renovations with students relocated to the Demarest building.
  11. The proposed budget includes improved scheduling efficiencies with the move of the alternate program from Demarest to the High School Building and the move of the 8th grade to the high school.
  12. The proposed budget was prepared understanding that in addition to the unavailability of large surpluses in future years, the probability of smaller excess revenues and under-expended line items this coming year and the likelihood of flat state aid at best over the next few years, that available revenues continue to decline.
  13. The proposed budget was prepared with the strong possibility of a reduced tax levy cap of 2 ½ % for the next budget cycle together with the elimination of the various tax cap waivers currently available and with the knowledge that dollars below cap any year are permanent for all future years.
  14. The proposed budget was prepared with the understanding that the possible new and lower hard tax cap of 2 ½% will coincide with already negotiated salary increases of 4% in future budget years.
  15. The budget was prepared with the understanding that the administration has operated within the framework of the board’s budget goal, not withstanding the various adverse parameters listed above. 
  16. This budget was prepared given the late notice of state aid received after the close of business on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 with cuts of $1,000,000 more than the maximum we were told to anticipate. 
  17. The revised budgets were “technically” due in the county office today.
  18. This budget is recommended by the Superintendent to the Board of Education subject to the understanding of how the above items will impact future budget years.

    Sincerely yours,
    Peter E. Carter

    Talking Ed Note:  This letter was posted originally on the Board of Ed site but many may not see it.  It's important to note the efforts of the Superintendent and Business Administrator Davis' to present such a professional and well executed plan.

    A number of challenges with reductions in State aid due to the fiscal crisis have been met and that's something everyone should be satisfied with, election next month notwithstanding.  Areas highlighted in red are emphasized by MSV.

    As about 30% of Hoboken taxpayer's bill is for education, this is no small feat.