The East Rockaway Board of Education adopted a $39.4 million budget for the 2018-19 school year at its meeting on Tuesday — a 3 percent increase from 2017-18.
Jacqueline Scrio, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations, initially presented the budget proposal at a meeting with Superintendent Lisa Ruiz and members of the Board of Education at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School on April 10.
Scrio said the consumer price index is set at 2 percent, and added that the tax levy — the total amount that a district must collect in property taxes to meet expenses — is preliminarily set at a 2.32 percent increase, providing the district $676,171 from taxpayers.
Scrio noted that one major reason for the budget increase is new security measures at the schools.
“We’ve had additional security personnel in the budget across the district,” she said. “We have exterior security outside each individual building to secure the outside perimeter. We have added security personnel in the evening here at the high school, because we have a lot of activities at night.”
Revenue sources for the budget include property taxes, state aid, interest earnings, refunds and tuitions. The three components that comprise the budget are instructional programs, capital projects and administration expenses, all of which increased.
Scrio said a major facet of the administrative budget increase was mandatory flood insurance the district was required to receive in order for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund and complete mitigation projects. They include the installation of floodgates, flood planks, generators and pumps to help the buildings become more storm-resilient in the wake of Hurricane Sandy heavily damaging the high school in 2012.
“The bulk of the administrative component increase is due to the increased flood insurance by FEMA,” Scrio said. “But ultimately, we’re getting a significant amount of work paid for by FEMA without any district funding.” She added that the cost of teachers’ benefits decreased because of a significant amount of new hires.
New additions the budget will fund include Math Olympiad Clubs in each of the district’s buildings; a Best Buddies Club for special education students at the high school; a new school bus; a new science curriculum for students in kindergarten through second grade; a new math curriculum for students in kindergarten through sixth grade (which is still under review); an additional 100 hours of pay for an athletic trainer to work with the sports teams; professional development initiatives; and the hiring of a state-mandated elementary school guidance counselor.