2019-20 Budget Update from the Board of Education
April 10, 2019
Dear Members of the Brighton School Community,
At last night’s Board of Education meeting, we adopted a proposed spending plan for your consideration at this year’s budget vote. Our adoption followed a long process of analyzing the needs of students and programs being proposed for next year, while reviewing our current spending and developing an understanding of the success of our current offerings. We gathered community feedback and considered your perspectives while deliberating over long-term financial implications, the cost of maintaining excellence and the impact that taxes have on each household.
We are very frustrated by the state’s inability to provide anything resembling equity in aid for our schools. We continue to receive among the lowest percentage of state aid promised by the State’s own formula. We have advocated tirelessly for this to be addressed again and appreciate the support of many of you through Fight for Brighton. We will continue our advocacy efforts and have already engaged in discussions with legislators and policy makers to get yet another “fix” for the next budget year.
We believe that budgets communicate priorities. Where you devote resources communicates what you feel is best for supporting children. A budget is a value statement. The 2019-20 proposed budget meets and exceeds state mandates to support every child along the education spectrum; provides funding in support of Brighton Blueprint plans related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as Safety and Security; increases support for all students in the area of mental health and wellness; and respects taxpayers and honors commitments. Specifically, this spending plan supports the debt service adopted by the community in the 2017 capital project vote and will help us avoid significant “spikes” in taxes that support future budgets.
We do not take tax increases and proposals to exceed the property tax cap lightly. We last proposed exceeding the cap in 2014-2015 and have been able to maintain under the cap proposals ever since. We do not anticipate proposing an increase over the cap for some time, but are doing so now in order to maintain our strong fiscal health and the programming essential to the excellent experience here at Brighton. Approval of the budget would result in an estimated 4.89% property tax levy increase. The State’s Property Tax Cap formula calculated an allowable tax levy limit of 2.34% for Brighton Central School District. The community can choose to exceed this number if 60% of voters vote to do so. If the community chooses not to exceed the cap, the District will need to explore significant changes to programs and plans designed to protect the District from significant tax increases in future years.
The Brighton Central School District is proposing a budget that exceeds the New York State Tax Cap due to the increased cost of mandates and the failure of New York State to provide aid in accordance with the Foundation Aid formula. Consequently, some of our homeowners that were eligible for the property tax relief credit in 2018-19 will not be eligible for the credit with this proposal. This does not impact STAR savings, only the additional rebate check from the State. In exchange, we are working tirelessly to fulfill our commitment to the children of our community. Efficiencies have been included in this budget while programming is being supported in ways that will help the District maintain excellence in the educational experience being provided to all students.
We are looking forward to discussing this proposal with you at an upcoming budget hearing, Board of Education meeting or the variety of community presentations where it will be reviewed. We appreciate the feedback you have provided and the voices you have lent to our efforts to achieve equity in funding. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration and input.
Your Board of Education
Mark Kokanovich, President
Julene Gilbert, Vice President