A memorandum presented to the Board’s Finance Committee on May 13 outlines on a preliminary basis a handful of items that may affect School District 65’s budget for the 2013-14 school year. In February, administrators projected that the District would operate at a slight surplus for the year, assuming that $1.5 million in expenses were prepaid in that year for the following year.
Comptroller Kathy Zalewski said in the memo that the budget for next year includes eight additional teaching positions (five general education and three special education) due to higher student enrollment. In addition, she said the budget includes ten additional special education teacher assistant positions that were added this year after the school year started. The February projections included amounts for these positions.
The memo added that administrators are considering adding additional assistant principal positions, the cost of which will be partially offset by savings in other areas.
Assistant Superintendent Susanne Schultz said Plan A was to add six new assistant principal positions, and Plan B was to add four who would be shared across school buildings. Ms. Schultz said the assistant principals would be added to larger schools where there is a general need, including where there was a self-contained program. She mentioned that parents at Bessie-Rhodes magnet school had been asking for an assistant principal to help manage the K-8 school.
Superintendent Hardy Murphy said adding new assistant principals will depend on how the budget develops. “We all understand that,” he said.
Chief Financial Officer Mary Brown reported that the District was advised that the cost of medical insurance for next year would be reduced by three percent from the cost this year. She said this would reduce the projected cost of medical insurance by about $1 million in 2013-14, and that it may benefit future years as well because it lowers the base from which any future increases would be calculated.
Dr. Brown cautioned that it was also possible that the State could shift a portion of the cost of teacher pensions to the school districts. The two competing bills that address teacher pensions and that have each passed one body of the State legislature do not contain cost-shifting provisions, but one could be included in a separate bill, she said.
Ms. Zalewski said this could add about $300,000 to expenses in the 2013-14 school year, with increasing amounts in subsequent years.
Dr. Murphy said a draft budget laying out revenues and expenses would be presented to the Finance Committee in June and a tentative budget presented in August.