EducationThe White Plains Examiner

Ricca Proposes $266M Tax-Cap Compliant Budget for White Plains Schools

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By Barbara Kay

Dr. Joseph Ricca, White Plains’ superintendent of schools, announced last week a preliminary $265.9 million preliminary budget carrying a tax levy increase of 1.06 percent.

White Plains Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Ricca unveiled the district’s preliminary $265.9 million budget for 2024-25 with an estimated tax levy increase of 1.06 percent that easily complies with the state tax cap.

Ricca has put forth an initial spending plan that would raise $200.3 million through the taxes.

As a result of a growth factor of 1.02 percent and money, the district’s $2.1 million increase in tax levy is about $2.4 million under the allowable limit despite a cut in Foundation Aid.

“We recognize that all the decisions we make today have long-term ramifications,” Ricca said at the Board of Education’s Mar. 11 meeting. “We try to make sure that we’re thinking five steps ahead and thinking about unintentional consequences of any decisions or programmatic changes that we recommend today.”

Ricca said the district should prepare next year’s budget with no additional state aid on the horizon. However, the district is prepared to use fund balance where none was used last year.

“We’re using fund balance reserve dollars to support the increase in retirement pension expenses of $1.6 million and that money was reserved exclusively to support an increase in that expense,” said Dr. Ann Vaccaro-Teich, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

State and federal aid would total about $44.8 million, or about 17 percent, with other revenues coming to roughly $16.3 million, Vaccaro-Teich explained. Real property taxes would account for 76 percent of the budget.

The board had previously federal aid that came as a result of the pandemic, but that money has now run out.

“(The) 2021-22 to 2023-24 (school years) we received $16 million in one-time-only federal aid, which we only used for nonrecurring expenses,” Vaccaro-Teich said. “Because of that we were able to reduce the levy from the maximum allowable from the last three years. That saved our taxpayers significant dollars,”

“Right now, for 2024-25, we don’t see new state aid. We poured it down on the fact the governor had proposed reductions for 24-25 state aid,” she continued.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed to adjust Foundation Aid, which in many districts throughout the state will reduce the amount of state assistance received. White Plains stands to lose close to $500,000 in Hochul’s executive budget proposal.

“We’re not caught up in that conversation, meaning the funding we receive is directly proportional to where we’re at in terms of student enrollment and support,” Ricca said.

“The governor’s initial executive budget had our projected aid reduced by about $489,000, but it’s important to recognize that’s the governor’s proposed budget and not the final state budget,” he added.

Last week, both the Assembly and state Senate restored full Foundation Aid in their proposed one-house budgets, but that could be a key point of contention between the legislature and the governor before work on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget is done.

The board has planned how it can save the nearly half-million dollars they could lose, by postponing “projects and expansions to different years,” Ricca said.

New programs that are being introduced include expansion of language studies, college prep, technology and food services. The district will see only a .3 full-time equivalent increase in staff districtwide.

The school budget vote, propositions on a transfer to capital reserves and school board election will take place on Tuesday, May 21.



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