But the deficit doesn’t tell the whole story.
The district is budgeting $13.8 million in undesignated funds to balance the projected deficit of revenue under expenses.
But according to Chief Financial Officer John Gardner, the district historically sees savings in money that’s budgeted but not spent.
Board chair Joe DeFeo said after Monday’s board meeting that thinks the district will only use around $3 million in undesignated funds to balance the budget that totals more than $680 million.
“Historically, we’ve been very, conservative with the estimates,” said DeFeo.
The district is mandated to give teachers a step increase, which is an incremental pay raise every year for 27 years at which point the pay increases are no longer mandatory.
But that doesn’t mean the board can’t offer raises to other workers.
Step increases for other eligible employees (not teachers) and salary increases for employees who have worked longer than 27 years can be offered at the board’s discretion.
Under this year’s proposed budget passed by a non-binding preliminary first vote, employees not eligible for a step increase would get a 2 percent raise and non-teacher employees would also get a step increase.
“We have generally every other year, and in some of the bad times every third year, given everybody an increase but just not every year,” said DeFeo.
Critical needs teacher signing bonus
The board during its preliminary vote approved the $375,000 in incentives for critical needs teachers.
The money was originally budgeted for signing bonuses, but the board voted to amend the budget item to focus on recruitment and retention with the intent to reward longevity instead of a one-time signing bonus.
“You don’t just hand somebody $2,500 and say ‘You can leave after one year,’” said DeFeo. “What we did was approve the budget item with the staff to come back to us with a five-year discussion and it should be ready when these bonuses are signed.”
Other optional spending increases approved by the board during the preliminary vote include $79,720 for assistant athletic directors at each high school and $22,854 in additional funding for junior varsity lacrosse.
It also includes funding for four days of curricular work and staff development and funding for additional building services staff, maintenance staff and supplies, equipment and school furniture.
The budget will still have to pass a final vote by the full board before the end of June.