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Budget analysis - Millbrook Central School District

by Stephen Kaye
Sat Apr 30th, 2016

The Millbrook Central School District released it 2016-15 Budget that will be submitted to voters on Tuesday, May 17. The voting place is the Millbrook Central School on Alden Place. 

Anticipated spending follows closely the current year’s, without any serious deviations.  It could be called a conservative, careful budget, one of the most conservative budgets we have seen in our years of looking at school budgets.  Next year’s spending is budgeted at $28,440,978; the current year is $28, 326,445, the increase is $114,533.

The budget has a separate section for Pupils with Disabilities - $3,514,146. That amount includes tuition expenses at BOCES, the central supplier of special services for all the districts in the county including everything from vocational training to one-on-one services for the more seriously disabled.  The enrollment figures list 154 students, or 15.9 percent of the total enrollment, as falling into this category. 

The largest budget item, instructional salaries ($6,685,819) decreases slightly.  Fewer students can result in staff reductions.  Transportation is also a slightly reduced item. 

District taxpayers will be contributing $23,247,655  (81.7 %) of the budget by way of the School Tax, a tax based on the assessed value of property.  The State provides most of the rest with a small amount coming from tuition payments from other school districts.  Millbrook get less state aid than neighboring districts because the percentage of state aid is based on statistics weighing assessed valuations and income. But, it should be noted that 19% of students are entitled to a free lunch by virtue of parental income. 

In a separate section it is reported that expenditures per special ed pupils are $38,550 as contrasted with $13,966 for the general education cohort.  These figures are derived by formulas created by the Board of Regents that regulates school reporting requirements. There is a bewildering collection of data appended to the budget mandated by the Sate Board of Education that may be meaningful to someone. At the end of pages of this data is a comparison: Millbrook’s cost per student is given as $27,040 whereas “similar districts” spend $25,356 and the NY State average is $21,812. 

The enrollment figures suggest that class sizes are trending down. The average size of current high school classes is 88; the average of classes K-8 is 73; the average of grades K through 6 is 57.  If the size of lower school classes is a predictor of future high school classes, it may be time for serious thinking about down-sizing or coordination of high school offerings with other schools in the region. 

The complete school budget with extensive mandated appendages is available for viewing.

Of the 98 teachers in the Millbrook School District, 19 make over $100,000.  The highest paid teacher makes $121,351; the lowest $63,000. The average is $84,500. 

According to the US Census Bureau 2010-2014 census figures the medium household income for the state is $58,878 while the medium per capita income is $32,829.  

There are 958 students as of December 2015.  In 2013 there were 1058; in 2014 there were 1001.  In two years enrollment has declined 9 percent.  If that rate of decrease continues, the school population will be significantly different in four more years.    

The declining school population is not unique to Millbrook.  Neighboring districts have witnessed similar declines.  The Millbrook Board of Education has engaged a projection/demographic consultant to help study the impacts of declining enrollment.