Written by Chris Boyle Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00
The Herricks Board of Education unveiled its preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year on Nov. 7. However, Superintendent Dr. John Bierwirth stated that it was far from complete due to several unknown factors. .
“We have budgeted so far based on contracts, salaries, and other known factors,” he said. “Because health insurance and retirement is better than we thought, the budget is shaping up better than I thought it would.” The completed 2014-15 budget is expected to be presented in February
The current tax levy is $92,128,889, with an estimated tax cap of $1,529,340, or 1.66 percent. These numbers are subject to change, Bierwirth said, based on final revenue figures, including the amount of state aid Herricks will receive and money saved from teacher retirements.
What Herricks does know are the increases in district health insurance premiums, which is roughly 4 percent for 2014; 6 percent for 2015. While higher than the 2014 increase, it’s lower than the 7-10 percent increases of the past several years.
In addition, the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) has estimated that the rate for 2014-15 will be between 17.25 and 17.75 percent; the current rate that the school district pays per teacher is 16.25 percent.
Board of Education President James Gounaris noted that new contract negotiations are soon to begin for both teachers and administrators of the school district.
“Since July 1, the board has been actively assessing the contracts as they are now, and we’ve really been working hard the last four months to get our heads wrapped around them,” he said. “We want to find what would work best for everyone in the community, and we’re eager to get that process started.”
Helen Costigan, assistant superintendent for business, also spoke, on an upcoming series of capital projects.
“We met as a district, and we looked at the most critical needs that we need to address,” she said. “At the end of 2015, we’re going to be paying off a bond that has a $300,000 payment attached to it...once it’s paid off, we’re looking to go out and borrow money to fund the projects we’re talking about. We’ve done this in the past, and it’s worked out very well.”
The district will put the finance and improvements plan to the voters in May, Costigan said.
Among the capital projects being proposed: new roofing, stainless steel chimney caps, skylights, boiler replacement, asbestos abatement, and other maintenance-related issues.
The capital projects proposed at the meeting would cover the Middle and Denton Avenue schools. The total cost of these projects is currently estimated to be $3,221,614, according to Costigan.
The next Herricks School Board meeting is on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:15 p.m. in the Herricks Community Center.