Marlboro kicks off budget season with $1.5 million increase

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 2/20/24

Last week the Marlboro School Administration and Board of Education began their first of many discussions on the budget for the 2024-25 school year.


Rydell said the budget for the …

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Marlboro kicks off budget season with $1.5 million increase

Last week the Marlboro School Administration and Board of Education began their first of many discussions on the budget for the 2024-25 school year.
Rydell said the budget for the current school year of 2023-24 is $63,973,392 and if the board does a rollover, it includes all current expenses, programs and staffing, the budget for the 2024-25 school year would be $65,591,761.
Rydell said he wanted to show that, “if we took everything that currently exists in our district and the expenses, that we can best predict and roll them over into a new school year; staff members going up a step each year and all of that has to be accounted for and the only responsible way to begin is to let you know where we’re starting from [and] a rollover budget does that...I want to be crystal clear, we are not right off the bat saying this is our proposal for the 2024-25 school year. It is for information purposes to start the conversation.”
Rydell has been meeting with each of the building administrators and they are looking at the budget line by line, “and at three year look-backs of what was budgeted and what was ultimately expended.”
Rydell highlighted the chief cost drivers for the increases:
Salaries (contractual obligations) are up by $687,437, a Debt increase of $140,697 and a jump in Benefits by $827,707.
Rydell also pointed out the current school aid numbers: Foundation Aid in 2023-24 was $17,004,229 but that is expected to drop by $67,109 to $16,973,120 for the 2024-25 budget.
Rydell said State Aid figures have been released by the Governor but the final numbers the district comes up with may not match her figures.
“Time has shown what the final number is does not match what the executive [Governor] budget comes out with,” he said, noting that he and the board will closely monitor the state budget to see if there are any changes that would either positively or negatively impact Marlboro.
Rydell said that State Aid, excluding Universal Pre-K, in 2023-24 was $24,913,715 [which actually came to $25.2 million] and the 2024-25 aid from the Governor is $25, 417,081, an increase of $503,366.
Board President Frank Milazzo pointed out that on the state aid line, the district, “has to expend it to get it.”
Rydell said, “The various lines that make up state aid is all expense driven, so your transportation aid is based on how much you’re paying for transportation and that’s how much you potentially could get back based on the appropriate percentages.”
Rydell explained how the 2023-24 budget of $63.9 million was balanced; by tapping $2,640,382 from the Appropriated Fund balance, receiving $25.2 million in state aid, collecting $33,116,599 through the tax levy, $1,522,875 from PILOT agreements, and $1,442,181 from other revenues such as interest and the Roseton plant.
Rydell said if you look at the 2023-24 school budget and take the rollover budget, the difference is about $1.6 million. He noted that state aid in the Governor’s budget shows an increase for Marlboro of $165,726 and the PILOT agreements have also increased by $19,525. 
Rydell said his Administrative team will continue meeting to discuss current expenses, programming and staffing. He said all aspects surrounding the budget will be scrutinized, “so that way when we are faced with those final if/then statements, we can make the best decisions that were thought out over time and with strategy, as opposed to finding the easiest ways to cut large amounts, which ultimately and inevitably comes down to personnel. That’s not a veiled threat; I’m just trying to say that’s why our administrative team is dedicated to looking at each one of those [budget] lines and asking how can we do better.”
Rydell said information will be provided to the school board to help them make decisions on the tax levy or on any impact to the appropriated fund balance, and are doing so, “with the greatest amount of knowledge possible.”
Rydell said they will continue to monitor what is happening in Albany, noting that it requires continued advocacy.
“It is important because it doesn’t just affect our school district but it affects all school districts in New York. We all have to band together to make sure that we take care of all children in this state,” he said.
Board President Frank Milazzo pointed out that “this is the process we follow every year. We look at what we spent, we know we have [cost] drivers that we know are going to go up and that’s the starting point for looking at everything...The biggest thing the public can do is to talk to your representatives because the Governor’s proposal is horrific. We’re impacted very slightly but some districts are being devastated by these proposals.”
Milazzo said if Albany fails to meet their own budget deadline in April it will leave school districts in the dark about how much state aid they will be receiving and that in turn, creates uncertainty in planning the curriculum for students.