It’s budget time again, and the MTSD Board has been hard at work over the past three months finalizing our budget for the 2020-2021 school year.
We started by looking at a budget that would meet the changing needs of our district for the next year and beyond, but it was quickly apparent that the financial challenges we were facing this year would make that unattainable. We then looked at a level-service budget; that is, absolutely no new programs or employees for 2020-2021. Even with no new services, the increase was an untenable 5.6%, from $31,124,619 to $32,870,270. Based on that, the Board felt that even a level service budget was just not an option this year. After several weeks of discussions, and many conversations with community members, administration, faculty, support staff and students, we finally arrived at our current proposed budget of $32,276,230, or a 3.7% increase, through reduction or elimination of some programs, reduction in transportation costs, and reducing hours or eliminating several teaching and staff positions. This translates to an increase of approximately $0.1254 in the tax rate, or a total of about $250/year for a family owning a $200,000 house, assuming no income sensitivity. However, every household with income less than $136,500 qualifies for income-sensitive tax reduction.
There are many challenges financially this year that are beyond our control. Health insurance premiums increased by over 13%. The new statewide health care contract for school employees requires us to expand our health insurance offerings for support staff. The State’s calculation of both the Equalized Pupils in Milton and the Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) for Milton decreased, which raises our tax rate. Special Ed and unfunded 504 plan costs continue to increase, as more students entering the district have mandated educational and social-emotional needs. These are items outside of our control that contribute to a tax rate increase.
We feel strongly that this budget balances the needs of our school and community with the fiscal responsibility that our taxpayers expect. To cut more deeply would jeopardize the progress we’ve made in both our academic performance as well as our transition to a whole child framework that is better able to accommodate the many social and emotional needs of our students.
Please come learn more about our budget at one of our upcoming budget socials on 2/8 at 11 a.m. at the MHS Library or 2/20 at 7 p.m. at the new District Office Building at 12 Bradley Street. All questions welcome!
Rick Dooley, Vice-Chair, on behalf of the MTSD Board