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White Plains School District's Non-Instructional Budget Up $1.3M

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The White Plains Board of Education outlined its preliminary non-instructional budget Tuesday, which proposes a $1,311,788 or 1.6 percent increase in spending on administration, equipment, building maintenance, employee benefits and transportation.

The district is drafting its budget to stay within the 2 percent property tax cap, which means raises in budget sections below 2 percent are permitted, according to Fred Seiler, the district's assistant superintendent for business.

"With the property tax cap, we’re probably looking at something in the 2 to 2 1/4 percent range so whenever we can bring in areas below that number, that’s good news," said Seiler.

The non-instructional spending plan will constitute approximately 44 percent of the entire district's budget, which must bridge a $1 million funding gap.

The fiscal plan calls for a $2,969 increase in the board of education's budget. Although Superintendent Christopher Clouet will receive a $8,501 raise, other cuts in his department limit his office's budget to a $8,499 increase.

"All the budget sections we see tonight will have built into it the negotiated salary increase. They're already negotiated and decided," Seiler said of what he repeatedly described as "a conservative budget."

State requirements prompt the district to increase its employees retirement system budget $715,000 to $3.1 million and its teachers retirement system funding by $1,185,000 to $11 million.

"The comptroller there sets the rate. He sends us a bill. In fact, when he sets the bill, he just takes the money right out of our state aid," Seiler said. "They define what the increases are and they’re pretty significant here."

For the first time, the budget allocates $9,000 to fund a second budget vote or capital project vote, if necessary.

Last year, White Plains schools added $26,572 to its records management budget, which qualified the district for a $45,000 grant. This year, the district plans to raise the sections budget by $1,259 to $47,929.

"It's probably a five year task to bring all of our records into compliance," Seiler said. "We did use it for some part-time staff to tackle that very challenging problem," he said referring to the allocated funds.

The board of education hopes to save some money by not spending all of the $318,000 it allocated for facility maintenance overtime. The district said this winter’s lack of snow and coordinating city programs during hours when school buildings are staffed has helped it only spend $75,810 to date.

The district anticipates it can cut $5,000 from auditing services and save an additional $330,000 from the MTA tax repeal. Fully transitioning universal pre-kindergarten to private contractors next year will save money as well.

"It's hard to provide programs with the amount of aid the state gives us," said Seiler. "With the $2,715 per student, our private providers do a good job of providing that pre-k program."

The board of education will begin outlining its proposed instructional budget on Feb. 13.

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