Valley View School District passes balanced budget

Fiscal 2016 budget approximately $256 million

By Laura Katauskas | Bugle Staff

For the first time in five years, the Valley View School District passed a balanced budget for fiscal year 2016 with an overall budget of approximately $256 million, a 3.2 percent increase over last year.

“Through good stewardship, administration and the board, we have weathered this storm without layoffs and slashing staff which other districts have had to do,” School Board President Steven Quigley said. “We’ve done all this without charging high fees or sacrificing class sizes and we had to do this because it is the right thing to do.  …This is because of the candor between Gary Grizaffi and the administration and the board planning for how things are going to be three to five years down the road. We are not a borrowing district; we did not have to do that. “

Assistant Superintendent Gary Grizaffi agreed.

“This is good news and it is nice to see the ship steered in the right direction, so to speak,” he said.

With an increase of $1.6 million, or .5 percent over last year’s budget, the district will have approximately $227 million in operating funds. Less than $52 million of the funding is to come from the state, though those funds are still pending with an unbalanced state budget and $16.43 million in federal dollars. The remainder, some $185 million, comes from local resources.

According to Grizaffi, the 2015 property tax levy will be limited by the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, as it has been since 1991. The limit for 2015 is .8 percent of the 2014 extension, or an estimated $1 million of additional local property tax revenue, half of which is to be received in the 2015-16 school year. This is a decrease over last year when the district realized a $2.2 million increase of additional revenue generated by the tax levy.    

Grizaffi explained that revenue from the state is expected to be prorated again this fiscal year.  Though the district will see an increase of $3.84 million in General State Aid in the 2014-15 school year, the GSA proration at 92.08 percent represents a loss of $2.9 million. In addition, transportation reimbursement continues to decrease by $1.12 million dating back to 2010.

Major changes in the 2015-2016 budget will account for the addition of $896,000 for Pre-K Expansion grant program and an increase in salary costs of 3 percent per labor agreements totaling $4.1 million. However, the district will see a decrease of $4.5 million in benefits/claims costs. Some medical benefits were cut for employee spouses and a one-time $1,000 offset per contract was accepted and included in this budget; tuition budget for outside placement students reduced by $340,000; guest teacher rate increased by $200,000; post retirement incentives are included at slightly more than $1 million and the district will include an increase of $1.6 million in its scheduled debt service payment, an increase of 6.2 percent.

“We continue to monitor our low point balance threshold, targeting 30 days of operating reserve pre-June property tax collections. As mentioned previously I remain very cautious about the budget due to the State not having approved a state-wide budget without any new revenue identified as a means to support a proposed spending plan,” warned Grizaffi.

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