Following a long arduous process determining how much to cut and what was an appropriate number to add to reserves, the Seaford Board of Education adopted its budget proposal late Tuesday night that will be put before voters May 15.
The $57.8 million spending plan represents a 5.4 percent increase over the district’s current contingency budget. If approved the tax levy, which is the percent of the budget that must be raised in taxes to meet expenses, would jump 2.5 percent. The district was permitted an allowable tax levy increase of 2.93 percent under a new tax cap law approved by the State Legislature last year but the school board opted to go with a lower number to have a better chance of approving the budget.
“The most important that we have to make sure that we do is to get a passed budget this year,” said Seaford Superintendent of Schools Brian Conboy at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting held at . “We have to get out to the public, get out to Seaford and make sure that people understand the necessity for that passed budget.”
Following the budget adoption, district officials had to came up with $335,669 in cuts in order to reach the 2.5 percent tax levy limit. Some of these cuts include one full-time teaching position and reductions to health insurance costs, natural gas and mailings. Athletic Director Tom Condon was also asked to trim an additional $10,000 from his operating budget and a previously planned part-time $14,000 clerical position new hire to assist with transportation was scrapped. The district is also achieving savings from the retirement of an art teacher.
The budget proposal approved by the school board is also aimed at replenishing the district’s reserves. Under the plan approved Tuesday, the percentage of the district’s undesignated reserves would more than double from .6 percent to 1.3 percent. Seaford Board of Education president Brian Fagan stressed that upping the district’s reserves is crucial in terms of avoiding future credit downgrades from ratings agencies like Moody’s and to be more strongly position for future budgeting.
“You want to have reserves to help you on a rainy day,” Fagan said.
The only program addition to the budget is $88,000 toward technology aimed at directly benefiting students. This includes purchasing new computers at and and is the first part of a five-year plan recommended by the Advisory Committee for Technology.
All cuts for this year’s contingency budget remain including two seasons of middle school sports. The budget proposal includes funding for the spring middle school sports season meaning the fall and winter would need to privately funded. This past year, the fall season was funded and the Save Seaford Sports Committee was able to restore the winter season but by around $40,000 of funding the spring sports.
Fagan said he approached the United Teachers of Seaford to see if they would be willing to offer concessions that would avoid some district cuts but the union leadership declined.
The annual Seaford budget hearing is scheduled for May 3 at Seaford High School starting at 7:30 p.m.