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UPDATES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
*DeWitt will transition to full distance learning for Monday, December 7
*Belle Sherman, Boynton, and IHS are engaged in full distance learning until Monday, December 7

View all updates and announcements>>

Information Regarding Increase in Cases
December 3 Community Letter
NYS COVID-19 School Report Card Dashboard
 
 

2020-2021 Budget Summary and FAQs

Extension of Deadline to Receive Ballots by Mail
June 8, 2020 - Governor Cuomo has issued an Executive Order extending the deadline for school districts to receive absentee ballots returned by mail to June 16, 2020.

Ballots may be delivered by hand to the District Office at 400 Lake Street until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9. Ballots may continue to be mailed and will be received by mail until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16.  

The “closing of the polls” will occur at 5:00 p.m. on June 16, at which time, election inspectors will begin counting the ballots. Ballots that are postmarked on or prior to June 16 but not received by 5:00 p.m. on June 16 cannot be counted.
 

2020-2021 Budget Summary

View budget mailer>>
View budget presentation report>>
Visit budget development page>>
(click to enlarge)
2020-21 budget summary
Protecting the ICSD staff has been of utmost importance for us during this unprecedented time. We have been able to preserve the jobs of all of our current instructional staff, paying full wages and maintaining benefits. We have also preserved the jobs of all of our non-instructional staff and have been providing double-time to many of our essential workforce, including the food service staff, bus drivers, and custodians that have been diligently serving the needs of our families during this closure. Administrators have all been working to lead the efforts of distance learning, re-opening planning, and loving support of all of our ICSD employees, students, and families. 

At this moment in time, the 2020-21 budget supports salary increases for all of our staff in all of our bargained units (teachers, teaching aides and assistants, administrators, and employees in clerical, facilities, school nutrition, transportation, and school nursing), as well as members of our district that are not members of a union. The proposed budget also preserves the current classroom experience, and in many ways enhances it, by providing our students with robust academic, social-emotional, and psychological support for all populations, even if the connections to classroom instruction are occurring via distance learning.

 

2020-2021 Budget FAQs

We have been exploring budget lines since August 2019, as part of our year-long budget development process. For additional information, please review minutes from our Board Finance Committee work sessions on BoardDocs, or watch recordings of our budget updates presented to the Board of Education. Please also continue to send us your questions and comments using the Let's Talk portal.

Q

Why are there shifts in certain budget codes compared to last year?

A

Due to ESSA and NYS Transparency Report requirements, a number of positions and job titles needed to be recoded throughout the budget. A recode means that it was moved from one area of the budget (showing a decrease in that line) to another area of the budget (showing an increase). Decreases do not mean cuts in all cases, but instead, mean that the funds were merely moved elsewhere. 

When you see a line item increase or decrease, it can be due to a number of factors, such as:

  • funds were under- or over-budgeted the year prior and we made changes to reflect the actual expenditures  
  • salaries needed to catch up to prior year agreements that took effect after the budget was developed and approved  
  • funding was recoded due to new requirements from the State
  • new positions were created or eliminated after the budget was developed and approved
  • grant funds were used to support the costs of positions, which are therefore not included in the General Fund

Q

How are budgets in the Ithaca City School District developed?

A

Budgets are a reflection of the amount of funding that we think we need in order to operate the district for the following year. Budgets represent the moment in time in which they were developed. Every budget is built in collaboration with principals, directors, and many other stakeholders throughout our year-long budget development process.

If a budget developer (principal, director, etc.) no longer needs an item within their budget, they will request that the line item be eliminated. If they need a new item or more money added to an area of their budget, they will request that the line item be increased. Most money (except equipment) can be transferred to another area of the budget if needed and not all funds budgeted need to be spent.

Q

In this current economy, why would the ICSD propose a 2.8% tax levy increase?

A

We are levying the taxes allowed up to our tax cap calculation because that level still results in a tax rate decrease for our taxpayers. In other words, unless your property has been reassessed, the amount that you pay in school taxes will decrease next year. This is due to the fact that the taxable value of our community has increased to such an extent that, even though the school district level went up, it is spread across many more homeowners and businesses paying taxes, thus lowering the amount that each one of us pays.
  2019-20 2020-21
Tax Levy
$90,238,884
$92,777,822
% Change 3.02% 2.81%
Assessed Value
$5,357,267,887
$5,544,772,263
Tax Rate
$16.84
$16.73
% Change -0.94% -0.64%
Definitions
Tax Levy: Total amount of revenue collected from property taxes
Assessed Value: Total assessed value of all taxable property in the district
Tax Rate: Amount of money owed in taxes per $1,000 of assessed value

Q

We seem to spend most of our money on salaries. What do we spend on instructional salaries and administrator salaries?

A

K-6 Instructional Salary: $11,821,428
(approximately 261 staff - teachers and TAs)

7-12 Instructional Salary: $14,562,896
(approximately 220 staff - teachers and TAs)
 
Mental Health Support, Special Education, MEIs, Related Services, ENL Salary: $13,000,526
(approximately 213 staff)

Administrator Salary: $4,431,347
(approximately 48.2 staff)
 
The General Fund is supporting an increase of $600,000 (+15.7%) to TAs/aides, as well as an increase of $1,181,200 (+4.9%) to teachers. It is also important to note that many teachers, teaching assistants, and teacher aides are paid from Title Funds or grants that support the General Fund and allow the ICSD to have robust programs to educate all young people.

Q

Would you please provide some details about teachers’ salaries?

A

The Ithaca Teachers Association (ITA) is currently working under a contract that is settled through 2025 and provides the following salary increases to all members:
2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
4% $2,507 4.5% $2,724 4%
2019-2020 ITA Details
Base Salary
(new hire, 0 years experience)
$44,489
Average Salary $62,031
Median Salary $58,294
Highest Salary $107,313

Q

Will there be a reduction of Educational Support Professionals (ESPs)?

A

As stated above, the proposed budget supports an increase of ESPs. It is important to note that ESPs are aligned with IEPs and 504 Plans. As students’ IEPs/504s change, we will see increases or decreases in the number of ESPs.

Q

Would you please speak to the increase and salary level that the superintendent receives?

A

The ICSD has twelve instructional buildings and four non-instructional buildings, brimming with over 1,000 employees and 5,300 students. This will be Superintendent Brown’s 10th year leading the district. Per his contract with the Board of Education, Dr. Brown received a salary increase of 2.75% in June 2019 for the current school year and will receive a 2.75% for next school year. The first increase occurred after the current year’s budget was passed and the second is happening next year, thus the total increase that you see in the budget document. In other words, the budget reflects two years’ of funding.

Q

What changes did we make to the BOCES budget?

A

We decreased the number of slots that we reserve in the Possibilities and Lighthouse programs since we are enhancing other community partnerships. (If needed, we are able to purchase additional slots.) At the same time, we increased the number of slots in Turning Point. We also eliminated/decreased a number of positions (Treasurer, Technology Integration Specialist, Dignity Act Services, and Data Processing Support), which we will either create or absorb within our own staffing. We reduced the number of professional development funds running through BOCES due to a change in CoSer requirements and instead plan to do more in-house. The administrative fees were also decreased by TST BOCES.

Q

What is included in the Contractual Services line items?

A

"Contractual Services" are funds budgeted to contract with certain service providers, such as repair companies, software/hardware companies, staff developers, and specialists, to support district operations. Contracts that we enter into are listed on Board Reports.

Q

Is it true that classroom supply money was cut in the budget?

A

No, funding for supplies was not cut when developing the budget for next year. In fact, supply funds have increased by $93,391 or 5.92%.

Q

Is it true that equipment funding was cut?

A

No, funding for equipment ($554,448) was not cut when developing the budget for next year. Equipment funds are used for items that cost over $500/item. Monies cannot be transferred into the equipment funds as is done with other budget lines that need additional funding. Equipment requests are submitted directly by department leaders and building principals. These requests are based on year-round conversations with staff and reflect the needs of the adults and students. Funding amounts fluctuate each year based on those needs.

Q

It looks like there are large increases in athletics. Would you please explain this?

A

Athletics is one of the areas of our district that needs equipment and supply funding to address health and safety needs, as well as to replace items that have reached the end of their useful life. Formerly, the facilities budget often housed equipment funds, but we wanted to move them into the proper department to be managed by the Director of Athletics and Wellness. The supply funds cover sports medicine equipment, uniforms, and all supplies needed for student-athletes across all of our secondary buildings.

Q

Would you please give more details about non-instructional staff and substitutes, as those line items seem to be increasing significantly?

A

Our non-instructional and substitute staff are often our unsung heroes of the district. Non-instructional staff include, but are not limited to, teaching aides, bus drivers, custodians, nurses, clerical staff, grounds crew members, and maintainers. There are 171 teaching aides and 287 members of the Employees Association that make up the non-instructional lines and will continue to grow as needed to meet the needs of our students. As for substitutes, the increases that you see in the document are due to the line item being woefully under-budgeted last year, as well as to compensate for a new salary agreement that gives increases to the hundreds of substitutes that support our young people when our teachers need to take a day off.

Q

Does the decrease in English as a New Language (ENL) funding mean that the ICSD is not going to provide the required services to our young people who need those supports?

A

The ENL funding decreases represent the elimination of the ENL Coordinator position due to it being absorbed by a member of the Executive Team, as well as the retirement of a veteran teacher being replaced by a teacher. Like special education, the district takes our responsibilities to students needing ENL support very seriously and will analyze the required services so that all needs are met each year.

Q

How does this budget support social-emotional learning and the mental health needs of our students?

A

The budget maintains our partnership with BOCES programming and includes a significant increase in slots to programs with waitlists. The budget also supports enhanced community partnerships with organizations, such as the Tompkins County Mental Health (TCHD), that offer services to our students. (We piloted a partnership with the TCHD in two schools this year and intend to sustain and increase this partnership.) Finally, we will continue our commitment to RULER implementation, which began last year.

Q

Is there enough funding to support distance learning for next year, if required?

A

We believe that the use of technology and Instructional Technology (IT) staff in this area is imperative, even prior to our closure and dependence on distance learning. Thus, no cuts are being made to these areas of the budget. It is important to note that the budget does list a decrease to the 2630 code. However, what you are seeing is that a number of staff were coded to the 2630 code last year and needed to be recoded to the 2110 code, as well as the 1680 code due to new reporting requirements from the State. This is strictly a movement of funds.

Q

What are the consequences of decreasing the instructional coaching design to professional development within the ICSD?

A

It is our belief that, although the instructional coaching model is a powerful professional development tool for our teachers, it is imperative to place these talented teachers back into our classrooms to directly impact the lives of our young people. We are so excited to have them continue to serve as leaders within their school communities while teaching our students. We also recognize that this shift allows us to keep more educators working directly with children. Professional development will continue and the instructional coaches will play a large part internally.

In addition, we will be leveraging systems created to support our educators with job-embedded professional development. This work will be led by our building leadership teams, including the Master Educators for Inclusion (MEIs).

Q

How much State Aid might the ICSD lose if the Governor withholds 20%?

A

If the State does withhold aid, it will impact our formula aid amounts, not our reimbursement aid amounts. We receive $26,600,000 in formula aid; 20% of that amount equates to $5,320,000.

Q

How will you plan to cut quarterly if the Governor does indeed impose the earned quarterly reductions? 

A

Our goal will be to protect the student experience as much as possible and save jobs as best we can. We have contingency plans if need be, and we acknowledge that this will be challenging.

Q

Why don’t we just stop our work on the capital project and use that money to pay for other things?

A

Debt service represents the amount of principal and interest that we pay on funds that we borrowed to pay specifically for maintaining and renovating our buildings. Please note that many parts of the capital project have already been bid and awarded. If these parts of the project were delayed, it would increase costs at an average of 5% escalation per year.

Q

Does the budget take into account the changes that may be required as we prepare to open in the fall?

A

Our reopening plan will take into account CDC guidelines and other mandates from NYSED. The proposed 2020-21 budget, as written, supports this.

Q

What happens if the budget does not receive 50% or more of the votes?

A

If voters defeat the school district budget on June 9, we have two options: 1) resubmit the same proposal or a revised one for a revote on June 16 or 2) adopt a contingency budget. If residents vote down the budget a second time, the district MUST adopt a contingent budget. A contingency budget would levy the same amount of taxes as is levied in the current year, or less, without any adjustments for State pension rate increases, contractual obligations, or any other costs, mandated or not.