On the ballot: Proposed 2024-25 school district budget

On Tuesday, May 21, residents will consider a $114.0 million budget for the 2024-25 school year which would maintain smaller class sizes and support the district’s core values of academics, character, community and wellness.

The proposed 2024-25 budget includes a tax levy increase of $2,303,572, or 3.25%, an amount BELOW the maximum allowable tax levy increase under the tax cap law. The budget totals $114,037,534, a $7,346,231 or 6.89% increase compared to the current budget. The budget plan does not incorporate any use of the district’s fund balance.

Smaller class sizes, a priority over the last four years, would continue under the proposed plan. Elementary classes (K-5) average 19 students per section; in grades 6-12, core courses average 21 students per section. Actual enrollment data and enrollment projections are used to adjust staffing levels for each grade level.

“Our students continue to rebound from the challenges of the pandemic, academically, socially and emotionally,” said Superintendent Jody Monroe. “Guiding them on this path to success are teachers and staff committed to the district’s mission of preparing all students to reach their potential, discover their purpose, and be engaged members of the community.”

The 2024-25 budget plan balances students’ needs against a backdrop of post-pandemic inflation. The proposed budget increase reflects higher costs of employee benefits (up $2,684,503, or 10.2%), including prescription medicines and retirement contributions. Budgeted salary costs are down by 1.1%, or $628,896 less than in the current year. The reduction in salary expenses are due to staffing reductions through attrition (a position is not filled following a retirement).

An increase in debt service costs (up $3,210,682, or 43%) is due to the 2021 Capital Project, which is nearing completion this year, with more than 180 improvements across the district. The debt service increase is partially offset by an increase in anticipated state building aid, which is expected to increase by $1,683,160, or 46%.

Click here for more information on what’s new in the proposed 2024-25 BC budget.

Proposed tax levy increase is 3.25%, below the allowable tax cap

The proposed 2024-25 budget includes a tax levy increase of $2,303,572, or 3.25%. The amount is BELOW the district’s maximum allowable tax levy increase under New York state’s tax cap calculation (5.29%). The tax cap figure fluctuates yearly. 

The tax levy is the total amount of taxes the district plans to collect in 2024-25. The tax levy for 2024-25 is proposed at $73,128,537.

Impact of the proposed budget on individual taxpayers

The tax levy amount is used to determine the tax rate. The tax rate is the amount a homeowner pays per $1,000 of assessed property value. The estimated tax rate increase for residents in the Town of Bethlehem is 3.25%, or $70 more per $100,000 of assessed value; the estimated tax rate increase for residents in the Town of New Scotland is 3.32%, or $73 more per $100,000 of assessed value. These figures are estimates only.

Tax rate changes often differ between towns because of equalization rates set by the New York State Office of Real Property Services and changes to the total assessed property values in each town.

The district sets final tax rates in August, after the budget is approved and after the towns finalize assessment figures and the state confirms equalization rates.