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2021-2022 Budget Summary and FAQs

2021-2022 District Budget

On May 18, 2021, Ithaca City School District voters approved the proposed budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year in the amount of $145,179,885. The budget is an increase of 6.09% from last year's budget. More than half of the increase is attributed to federal funding allocated to the ICSD through the CRRSA Act and the ARPA. Although the budget includes a levy increase of 2.96%, we anticipate a decrease in the tax rate for the 6th consecutive year.

Budget Resources
Budget Development Presentations
Budget Hearing Recording
Budget Mailer
Budget Presentation Report
ESTIMATED Impact of Tax Levy
Property Tax Report Card
Revenue Projections
 
Budget Summary
Revenue
2020–2021
2021–2022
Change
State Aid $31,134,573  $33,990,223  9.17%
Other Revenue $6,105,308  $5,049,000  (17.30%)
Federal Support, Reserves,
and Fund Balance
$6,824,945  $10,615,170 55.53%
Local Property Tax Levy $92,777,822  $95,525,492  2.96%
TOTAL
$136,842,648 
$145,179,885 
6.09%
Appropriations
2020–2021
2021–2022
Change
Salary $61,161,414  $64,552,089  5.54%
Fringe Benefits $35,713,228  $37,382,391  4.67%
BOCES $17,679,614  $18,356,196  3.83%
Debt Service $8,629,511  $10,139,720  17.50%
Other $13,658,881  $14,749,489  7.98%
TOTAL
$136,842,648 
$145,179,885 
6.09%

Protecting the ICSD staff has been of utmost importance for us during this unprecedented time. We continue to preserve the jobs of all of our current instructional staff, paying full wages and maintaining benefits. We have also continued to preserve the jobs of all of our non-instructional staff and have been providing additional pay to many of our essential workforces, including the food service staff, bus drivers, and custodians that have been diligently serving the needs of our families during any closures. Administrators have all been working to lead the efforts of distance, in-person, and hybrid learning, planning to address evolving guidelines, and loving support of all of our ICSD employees, students, and families. 

At this moment in time, the 2021-22 budget supports salary increases for all of our staff in all of our bargained units (teachers, teaching aides and assistants, administrators, and clerical, facilities, school nutrition, transportation, and school nursing employees), as well as members of our district that are not members of a union. The proposed budget also supports the creation of positions that were needed to address the reopening guidelines for in-person, distance, and hybrid learning. Finally, the budget preserves and enhances the ICSD experience 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.

Public Budget Hearing
On May 11, the ICSD Board of Education held a public budget hearing to discuss and answer questions about the proposed 2021-2022 district budget. If you weren't able to tune in live, view the recording below.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

We have been exploring budget lines since August 2020, 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

How is the district’s budget increasing by 6.09% this year if the tax levy is only increasing by 2.96%?

A

The 6.09% increase includes a portion of the federal aid amounts of $10,724,907 to be used exclusively for COVID-related expenses over the next two to three years. We have allocated $4,397,468 of those funds for next year. Although the entirety of these funds every year will need to be transferred out of the General Fund and into the Special Aid Fund along with the corresponding expenses, they are shown in the budget for full transparency. They do not impact the tax levy amount in any way.

Without the Federal Aid increase, the budget is actually increasing by 2.88%, showing that the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds are leading to most of the budget to budget increase for next year. This information is also included in the detailed revenue document.

Q

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

A

Each year, a number of positions and job titles need to be recoded throughout the budget due to ESSA and NYS Transparency Report requirements. 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, and in fact, mean that the funds were merely moved elsewhere.

Q

What does it mean when there is an increase or decrease to a particular line item?

A

When you see a line item increase or decrease, it can be due to a number of factors, including:
  • Funds could have been under- or over-budgeted the year prior and we make changes to reflect the actual expenditures.  
  • Salaries may need to catch up to prior year agreements that took effect after the budget was developed and approved.   
  • Funding may need to be recoded due to new requirements from the State.  
  • New positions may have been created or eliminated after the budget was developed and approved.
  • When a staff person retires, the person replacing them often has a lower salary due to less seniority in the District.
  • We have used grant funds to support the costs of positions and therefore do not need to fund them with the General Fund.

Q

How are budgets in the Ithaca City School District developed?

A

Budgets are a reflection of the amount of funds that we think we need to operate the district for the following year. They represent the moment in time in which they are developed. Every budget is built in collaboration with principals, directors, and many other stakeholders throughout the entire year. If a budget developer 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

What do all of the numbers mean in the budget document?

A

To understand the components of the budgeting system that school districts in New York State must follow, please refer to the presentation given to the ICSD Board Finance Committee on February 16, 2021, found here (view the recording on our YouTube channel).

Q

In this current economy, why would the ICSD propose a 2.96% tax levy increase?

A

We are levying the taxes allowed up to the Tax Cap Calculation because that level still means a tax rate decrease for our taxpayers. In other words, the amount that you pay in school taxes is decreasing next year if your assessed value remains unchanged. In fact, this is the sixth year in a row that we have lowered the tax rate for our community. This is due to the fact that our 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. 

This resource from the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) provides additional information on the tax cap, tax levy, and tax rates: Q&A: The Property Tax Cap

Q

We seem to spend most of our money on salaries. What do we spend on instruction?

A

K-6 Instructional Salary: $12,762,679
(approximately 272 staff - teachers and TAs)

7-12 Instructional Salary: $14,382,010
(approximately 220 staff - teachers and TAs)
 
Mental Health Support, Special Education, MEIs, Related Services, ENL Salary: $13,337,459
(approximately 218 staff - guidance, ENL, OT, psychology, speech therapy, SPED, social work, MEIs, TAs)
 
The General Fund is supporting an increase of $491,469 (+8.5%) to TAs/aides, as well as an increase of $2,438,316 (+6.68%) 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%
2020-2021 ITA Details
Current Fiscal Year - 591 Staff
Base Salary
(new hire, 0 years experience)
$47,576
Average Salary $66,996
Median Salary $63,915
Highest Salary $110,473

Q

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

A

As stated above, the proposed budget supports an increase in 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 11th year leading the district. Per his contract with the Board of Education, Dr. Brown received a salary increase of 2.75% to take effect next school year.

Q

What changes did we make to the BOCES budget?

A

The budget reflects maintenance of existing programming, including slots for our students and families to enroll in Possibilities, Lighthouse, or Turning Point. Professional development funds running through BOCES have shifted due to CoSer requirements and we are doing more in-house while examining potential partnerships with component districts. The administrative fees were also increased 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 $280,732 or 16.81%. The way that we order classroom supplies has, however, changed. Traditionally, teachers have placed all of their orders for the following school year at one time in May. Now, teachers will be asked to place orders every couple of months throughout the school year.

Q

Is it true that equipment funding was cut?

A

No, funding for equipment ($620,643) was not cut when developing the budget for next year and has in fact been increased by $223,242 or 56.18%. Equipment is used for items that cost over $500/item and cannot have funding transferred into it like is done with other budget lines that need additional funding. Equipment requests are directly submitted 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 Athletic Director. The supply funds cover sports medicine equipment, uniforms, and all supplies needed for our student-athletes across all secondary buildings. Much of the equipment funding will be used to address bleacher replacements, scoring needs, and wrapping the new press box.

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 nearly 500 staff members 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 under-budgeted in prior years as well as to compensate for their salary agreement giving increases to the hundreds of people that support our young people when our teachers need to take a day off.

Q

What does the increase in English as a New Language (ENL) funding mean for the ICSD?

A

Like Special Education, the district takes our responsibilities to students needing ENL support very seriously and analyzes the required services necessary to meet the needs yearly.

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. It also supports enhanced community partnerships with organizations that offer services to our students and families such as Tompkins County Mental Health (present in 2 schools with intentions to sustain and increase). We continue to review needs by building increasing mental health positions as needed due to the flexibility this budget allows. Finally, we will continue our commitment to integrated, culturally responsive social-emotional learning through sustained RULER implementation.

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 that area are imperative, even prior to our closure and dependence on distance learning. Thus, increases of $170,224 in the 2630 budget code as well as $104,925 in the 1680 budget code are in effect for next year. 

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 project have already been bid and awarded. If these parts of the project were delayed it would increase costs, on average, 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

The reopening plan will take into account the CDC guidelines and other future mandates from NYSED. The budget, as written, supports a level of flexibility to meet the demands placed upon the district by the state. It also allows us to hire additional staff as needed to address learning and mental health needs as well as unanticipated virtual learning shifts.

Q

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

A

If voters defeat their school district budget on May 18, a district has two options: resubmit the same proposal or a revised one for a revote on June 15, or adopt a contingency budget. If residents vote down the budget a second time, the district MUST adopt a contingent budget. A contingency budget would have to levy the same amount of taxes as in the current year or less—without any adjustments for state pension rate increases, contractual obligations, or any other costs, mandated or not. The ICSD’s contingency budget is $2,747,669 less than our current budget request.