The instructional budget of the Enlarged City School District of Middletown is proposed to grow by 8 percent to nearly $140 million next year, according to a presentation at the Feb. 16 school board meeting.
It was the second of three budget presentations scheduled before the board, with the first addressing administrative expenses and the last about capital and benefits.
The instructional part, which takes up the lion’s share of the total budget, covers the costs of running instructional and extracurricular programs for over 7,500 district students.
Much of the increase will be covered by state foundation aid, which is set to grow by 20 percent next year, according to Assistant Superintendent for Administration Mike Tuttle.
At almost $42 million, costs for running special education programs are proposed to jump by 15 percent, or $5.7 million—the sharpest rise among all.
The increase is partly brought by the hiring of 24 new full-time teaching assistants, Tuttle said.
About $1 million in the increased special education expenses can be attributed to accounting reshuffling.
For example, some items that used to be recorded under psychological and social services are counted as special education expenses in the budget.
The costs for running regular schools, which takes up the largest share of the instructional budget, will rise by 5 percent to nearly $64 million, largely due to the current economic conditions and contractual salary commitments, Tuttle said.
He cited several economic indicators during the presentation, including a 4 percent growth in the consumer price index and a more than 50 percent increase in utility expenses over two years.
Occupational education, which has the second largest increase among all by dollar amounts, is proposed to jump by $772,000 in the coming school year.
The account covers the costs of sending over 400 hundred students to the career and technical programs at Orange-Ulster Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).
BOCES is a regional public education service organization that provides cost-effective programs and services to local school districts.
Both BOCES program costs and enrollment will increase next year, Tuttle said.
Computer-assisted instruction is set to increase by over $756,000 next year, the third largest increase within the instructional budget.
Much of the raise is for buying new computers at discounted rates through BOCES and replacing decade-old smart boards at schools, Tuttle said.
He added that around 70 percent of BOCES-related expenses would be reimbursed in the following years and turned into future revenue for the district.
Guidance service expenses are proposed to rise by $700,000 to $3 million, largely due to the hiring of new guidance counselors, Tuttle said.
Pupil transportation costs will also jump by about $470,000.
The third budget presentation about capital and benefits expenses will take place on March 9, followed by a revenue discussion on March 23, before the board adoption on April 20.
A public budget hearing is scheduled for May 4.
May 16 is the election day for both the budget and school board candidates.
Questions about the budget can be emailed to email@example.com.