Planning for 2022-2023 at the North Salem Board of Education meeting: Budget talks begin
North Salem Central School District (NSCSD) opened budget season on March 16th with one of superintendent Ken Freeston's oft-used metaphors: a map featuring a river with several bends. Freeston uses this metaphor to illustrate the importance of visionary leadership and the need to see three bends up the river.
In budget-related numbers, presentations were made explaining the allocation of a proposed $47,860,718 budget, which represents a 4.24% increase over last year and a declining student enrollment of 1,003 students projected for 2022-2023.
In public comment, parent Carol Hughes publicly expressed concern that the details of the budget were not “accessible to the public.” As of Wednesday that has been corrected and the budget is posted on the school website. The budget presented for the 2022-2023 school year is 30 pages shorter than previous budgets.
The 4.24% budget increase is largely in the areas of: salaries, employee benefits, and special education. On March 16, the North Salem Teachers Association and the North Salem Board of Education announced an increase in teacher salaries of 1.3%. The budget detail also shows an increase in salary for other administrative and staff members; those increases range from 3%-6%. The details of the increase for special education will not be released in time for conversations with the BOE on March 21 and will be presented on March 23.
Eric Stark, director of school business administration for NSCSD, presented on the school’s revenue, explaining that for the first time state aid has increased by 22.8% and there is an increase of $665,702.00 in the budget. Stark explained that there is other grant money including ARP (American Rescue Package) grant money totaling over a million dollars that is not factored into this revenue data.
Dr. Vazquez, director of instruction and human resources for NSCSD, expressed a significant need for reading and math instructional coaches and technology specialists to support instruction at the elementary level. Vazquez cited test results as validation for that need. “Given our scores, you can see that is a necessity not only in literacy but also in math,” Vazquez continued, adding, “the longer that we put that off, the longer that you see that impact.” Vazquez explained that each position would require around $140,000 in funding.
Community members who wish to get involved, ask questions, or comment and have a say in budget matters are invited to attend the Board of Education’s conversation with the public Monday, March 21 night at 7:00 p.m. in the MS/HS auditorium. A recording of the board meeting can be found here and the slides presented on March 16 can be found on the NSCSD website.
- March 16: Overview, Central Administration, Revenue, General Instruction, Co-Curricular Activities, Curriculum And
- March 21: Community Conversation Regarding Budget
- March 23 Special Education & Pupil Personnel, Athletics, Buildings /Grounds / Transportation
- April 6: Budget Recap and Scorecard Night* (In a follow up email to the North Salem Post commentary, Board President, Deb D’Agostino remarked that she did not anticipate much discussion on budget issues from the Board)
- April 19: Budget Adoption
- May 4: Budget Hearing
- May 17: Budget Vote