Budget Vote Final Ballot Results - May 18, 2021
Voters Approve 2021-2022 School Year Budget
Voters in the Mount Vernon City School District approved a $259,601,834 budget for the 2021-2022 school year by a 939-344 vote on Tuesday, May 18th.
The approved budget holds the line on spending with a zero percent spending increase from last year’s budget. The budget funds staff, programs and capital improvements that will keep the District moving toward the Action Plan goals set forth by the Board of Trustees and the Superintendent.
“With this approved budget, we will continue to make gains on the academic improvements in our District and provide greater opportunities for our students across all grade levels and buildings,” said Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton. “The passage of this budget is a testament to voters’ recognition of the critical importance of building back our depleted reserve funds, which will be important to make the District financially stronger and more prepared for future economic downturns without adversely affecting our students’ education.”
Of the total expenditures, over 70 percent will be used on directly supporting educational programming – such as general and special education, pupil personnel services, transportation, extracurricular activities, and interscholastic sports, and directly supporting the instructional and developmental needs of students – and just 9 percent will be used on administrative costs, which range from finance and legal services to curriculum development and supervision of schools such as principals. The remainder will be spent on capital, such as the operation and maintenance of the District’s plant, insurances, taxes, and security, among others.
“The Board would like to express gratitude to the community for its passage of the 2021-2022 budget,” said School Board President Darcy Miller. “We are thankful for the community engagement and are looking forward to another year of growth and innovation in the school district.”
Additionally, the following district residents were elected to the Board of Education for three-year terms: Darcy Miller (850 votes), Wanda White (810 votes) and Candice Sorenson (771 votes).
Mount Vernon City School District Adopts the 2021-2022 Budget
Mount Vernon City School District Holds the Line on Spending in $260 Million 2021-2022 Budget
Spending plan remains the same as 2020-2021; 0.5% increase in tax levy will help District build reserve funds, continue forging towards academic excellence.
The Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education adopted the 2021-2022 school year budget at a meeting held on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. The budget totals $259,601,834 and includes a zero percent increase in spending from the previous academic year. The budget also calls for a 0.5 percent increase to the tax levy. This is only the second time in Dr. Hamilton’s seven-year tenure that the District has put forward a budget with an increase in the tax levy.
“We have been very cognizant of the extraordinary impact on individuals in our community who are unemployed or underemployed. However, in order to put the District in the best position possible for long range planning, this budget proposes a 0.5 percent tax levy increase,” said Dr. Hamilton.
“It is unprecedented in our state, and perhaps even our nation, that a District proposes six budgets in eight years with a zero percent increase in the tax levy, yet that is exactly what we have done during my administration,” Dr. Hamilton said. “However, we recognize the negative impact that has had on our reserve funds and must correct our trajectory to continue offering the highest level of education possible for students in our community.”
Dr. Hamilton, along with Deputy Superintendent Jeff Gorman and Assistant Superintendent for Business Ken Silver, explained the impact of a zero percent tax levy increase year over year. The negative impacts include:
- A reduction in the District’s ability to levy future taxes by decreasing its Tax Levy Limit; negatively impacting the District’s financial rating, which further impacts the interest rate when the District has a need to borrow funds.
- A depletion in reserve funds, which also negatively impacts the District’s financial rating. This forces the District to become reliant on exclusions to balance the budget, increasing the potential for programs and curriculum offerings to be reduced in order to meet contractual obligations for salaries of teachers and staff.
The 2021-2022 budget has been carefully developed to ensure the alignment with the Board of Education and Superintendent’s Action Plan goals. It will also maintain implemented academic initiatives. The proposed budget also takes into account the public’s needs and the drastic changes impacting the Mount Vernon school community.
The three-part budget includes administrative costs, capital expenditures, and program expenses.
- The majority of the funds, 70 percent, will be used to cover costs related to programming such as general and special education, pupil personnel services, transportation, extracurricular activities, and interscholastic sports, and directly supporting the instructional and developmental needs of students.
- An additional 21 percent of the budget will be used for capital expenditures such as the operation and maintenance of the District’s plant, insurances, taxes, and security, among others.
- The remaining 9 percent of the budget covers administration costs ranging from finance and legal services to curriculum development and supervision of schools such as principals.
The budget includes approximately $65 million in non-negotiable expenses that include payments to charter schools in the District, health insurance for employees, other employee benefits, and the District’s obligation to community schools through a portion of Foundation Aid.
The District has identified opportunities for budget efficiencies that include a shift towards digital textbooks, an increased use of cooperative purchasing, and an optimization of administration through continued reorganization to decrease administrative expenses.
The 2021-2022 budget allows the District to continue its mission to ensure students’ academic success as well as providing opportunities for social-emotional learning and wellbeing. The budget maintains an excellent team of teachers and staff, address the COVID academic regression through intervention programs, and continue the District’s support of balanced literacy and its support of the arts, STEAM, and IB offerings at its high schools.
The budget allows the District to pilot a dual language Kindergarten program and expand the engineering courses available to students through Project Lead the Way (PLTW). It would also allow the District to maintain and restore its support services such as nurses, counselors, and clinicians; provide a library media specialist in every school, and continue to invest in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and mental wellness, among other initiatives.
2021-2022 Budget Presentation #4 - April 28, 2021
2021-2022 Budget Presentation Meeting - April 21, 2021
2021-2022 BOE Meeting - Budget Presentation - April 20, 2021
2021-2021 Budget Documents
Common questions and answers for this year's proposed 2020-2021 school year budget:
Q: What is the total for the proposed 2021-2022 budget?
A: The proposed budget totals $259,601,834. The budget includes a zero percent increase in spending from the previous academic year. Approximately 70 percent of the budget will be used for costs related to program offerings and academic curriculum. An additional 21 percent of the budget will be used for capital expenditures such as the operation and maintenance of the District’s plant, insurances, taxes, and security, among others. The remaining 9 percent of the budget covers administration costs ranging from finance and legal services to curriculum development and supervision of schools such as principals.
Q: Is there an increase in the tax levy in the proposed budget?
A: The budget calls for a 0.5 percent increase to the tax levy. This is only the second time in Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Hamilton’s seven-year that the District has put forward a budget with an increase in the tax levy.
We have been very cognizant of the extraordinary impact on individuals in our community who are unemployed or underemployed. However, in order to put the District in the best position possible for long range planning, this budget proposes a 0.5 percent tax levy increase. Proposing six budgets in eight years with a zero percent increase in the tax levy has had a negative impact on the District’s reserve funds, which must be corrected to continue offering the highest level of education possible for students in our community.”
Q: Why are you proposing to increase the tax levy for the upcoming year?
A: The District has put forward six budget proposals in the past seven years with a zero percent increase to the tax levy. In turn, that has required the District to draw down its reserve funds, which has negative long-term impacts on our students and the programs we are able to offer. Those negative impacts included a reduction in the District’s ability to levy future taxes by decreasing its Tax Levy Limit. That negatively impacts the District’s financial rating, which further impacts the interest rate when the District has a need to borrow funds.
In addition, a depletion in reserve funds also negatively impacts the District’s financial rating. This forces the District to become reliant on exclusions to balance the budget, increasing the potential for programs and curriculum offerings to be reduced in order to meet contractual obligations for salaries of teachers and staff.
By increasing the tax levy for the 2021-2022 school year, we can help cover costs related to administration, academics, and capital expenditures without drawing from our reserves, and help rebuild those reserve funds.
Q: How does this compare to other local school districts?
A: When you look at the numbers for White Plains and New Rochelle – generally considered the districts most comparable to Mount Vernon – you will have seen increases almost every year since 2015-16 to the present for those two other districts. White Plains’ cumulative increase in school budget was almost 13.5% and New Rochelle was just over 7.5%. Our increases over that time frame were a cumulative 0.89%.
Q: How does the increase in state aid for the 2021-2022 school year impact the proposed budget?
A: State aid accounts for 42 percent of the revenue in the upcoming budget. The tax levy, other than the state aid and other sources of revenue, is our main source of income. We do have a higher state aid than other school districts around. But we still have our taxes to collect. Even with the increase in state aid for the upcoming year, the funds are not sufficient to support the academic investment we plan to make, which is why the District is proposing a modest increase in the tax levy.
Q: Isn’t enrollment declining? So why isn’t it cheaper to educate fewer students?
A: This year is a bit of an anomaly because of COVID. Usually, we get a pretty decent balance between the number of students who graduate or transfer out or move, and the number of students that transfer in. usually if we lose 500 students over the summer we gain 500 students coming in. So why doesn’t the cost go down to educate fewer students? The community supported a bond referendum and insisted on neighborhood schools, so students could stay in the neighborhood with their peers and neighbors. That’s why the cost doesn’t go down.
Q: Will the District be rehiring those who were laid off during the pandemic?
A: The hiring needs of the District will be determined by enrollment numbers, particularly with those who are planning to reenter the classroom through in-person learning instruction in the upcoming school year.
Q: Will there be Pre-K 3 programs next year?
A: The District is still evaluating its Pre-K 3 program and what funding will look like for it. We do have plans to implement the Pre-K 4 program and maintain the full-day programming.
Q: What is being done to ensure equity across the District?
A: The District has been actively engaged in equity issues, trainig staff and principals on what equity looks like in our schools and making sure that students’ needs and requirements are met throughout the budget development process. We have assessed students’ academic and social performances and made budgetary allocations to accommodate their needs.
Q: What will happen if the budget does not pass on May 18?
A: If the budget does not pass following the May 18 vote, the District will present an austerity budget, which may be a reduced budget. If the second budget does not pass, the budget would become a contingency budget, which would be much lower and have a nominal impact on taxpayers but will prevent the District from purchasing necessary equipment such as furniture for its schools.
Q: Will there still be remote learning in the fall?
A: Right now, the District is planning to phase out remote learning in the fall, but the ultimate decision will depend on the number of cases in our communities.
Q: Will there be other chances to hear about the budget?
A: Yes. Wednesday, April 28 at 11 a.m.; Tuesday, May 4 at 6 p.m. (Budget Hearing); and Tuesday, May 4th at 6 p.m. Additional small group budget presentations (at least 15 people) may be arranged by request.
Mark Your Calendar!!
Upcoming Budget Presentations
Wednesday, April 21, 2021, @2:30 PM (Facebook LIVE)
Wednesday, April 28, 2020, @ 11 AM
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 @ 6:30 PM (District Wide Public Hearing via Zoom)
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 @6PM (Facebook LIVE)
To ensure our community is adequately informed the district will host in LIVE interactive broadcasts on the Superintendent's Proposed 2021-2022 Budget. The presentation will be viewable from the district website and on Facebook. Community members will be able to ask questions during the live presentation using a variety of methods, including email, phone, and social media. We encourage questions to be submitted in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Budget Question" in the subject line.
Additionally, the administration will make itself available as necessary to community groups for additional budget information sessions via zoom. For more information or to schedule a presentation, please contact Rick McCormack at email@example.com. Please be sure to provide a phone number and the name of the organization you represent. We ask that community groups guarantee an audience of at least 15 people.