Scarsdale School’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Martin presented what he called “relatively good news,” as he reviewed the June 2012 financial report for the Scarsdale school district at the Board of Education meeting this past Monday night. According to Martin, the actual financial results for the year were very close to estimates, with the addition of $153,000 to the fund balance, $60,000 of which went to the undesignated reserve, which ended the year at 3.81% of overall budget, just under the maximum allowed of 4%. Martin noted the following drivers of these results:
• A $1.3 million surplus in teacher salaries due to a large number of retirements and significant retirement savings, as well as the need for 4.8 fewer teaching positions budgeted than necessary. He noted that this year, there were 2.9 more teaching positions that had been budgeted for, due to enrollment growth, resulting in a smaller surplus this year;
• A deficit in the special education budget due to litigation;
• A surplus in the oil and gas budget of $470,000 due to the unusually warm winter;
• A surplus of $600,000 in electric use due to historically low usage;
• A surplus of $575,000 in the health insurance line, $300,000 of which came from a one-time federal program;
• And a retirement contribution reserve surplus of $348,000.
Martin and Linda Purvis, Assistant Superintendent for Business, mentioned the concern that employee retirement system contribution rates could go up as much as 21% this year, given that contribution rates are impacted by the lack of ability to earn interest in the market, and the assumption of by the system of a rate of return of 7.5%. The contribution is expected to close the gap between this assumptions and what the market actually provides.
The district’s auditors are reviewing the financial results, and the final report for the 2011-2012 school year will be presented to the board at its November 5 board meeting.
The board met prior to the meeting to discuss investment options for the $113 million in tax receipts expected to be collected this fall. President Liz Guggenheimer stated that, due to guidelines, there is limited flexibility in what can be done with this money, and that the board understands the need to be conservative with these funds. Given the environment of low interest rates, the board will only budget $200,000 of revenues from this source this year, and would discuss this in more detail later this fall.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael McGill raised the topic of teacher evaluations. Dr. McGill said that the board will be discussing the question of how school districts in New York state and Scarsdale in particular address issues of quality assurance at the board meeting on October 9. Under discussion will be the process of teacher evaluation and professional performance review, as well as Scarsdale’s longstanding practice and recent state initiatives that Scarsdale is being required to undertake.
Also at this meeting, the board authorized the disbursement of $32,500 in funding to the Scarsdale Teen Center, with another $32,500 to be disbursed on March 1, 2013. This funding was accepted as part of the 2012-2013 budget passed by voters last May.
The board has scheduled a special board meeting for this coming Monday, Oct. 1 at 8pm in Room 170 at the high school, and will have its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9at 8pm at Edgewood School.