The 2019-20 Garden City School District budget proposal that is set to be adopted on May 21 is the inaugural one for new superintendent, Dr. Kusum Sinha. The total number is $117,999,968, which represents a budget-to-budget increase of $2,194,685 or 1.9 percent. The projected tax levy increase (with STAR) is 2.08 percent. The breakdown is 75 percent ($88,551,015) going towards programming, 11.25 percent slated for administrative costs ($13,273,927) and the remaining 13.71 percent going towards capital projects ($16,175,026). At the most recent board of education budget meeting, Sinha was clear that this year’s proposal was keeping in line with the mission statement that’s earned Garden City a well-deserved reputation for being one of the highest performing school districts in the country.
“The Garden City School District seeks to create an environment for learning which enables each student the opportunity to grow as an individual as well as a group member while striving to achieve the optimal level of academic, social and personal success,” she said. “Our goal and responsibility is to help each student develop an enthusiasm for learning, a respect for self and others, and the skills to become a creative independent thinker and problem solver.”
A number of measures were taken by the district to control costs. Among them are inclusion in state, county and village bids and contracts for supplies and materials, the recycling of technology hardware within the district and transportation agreements with other school districts to generate revenue. Other notable factors include the administration maintaining an excellent district credit rating and being part of a consortia, where costs for transportation, purchasing, insurance, technology and supplies are lower due to the financial partnerships existing with other school districts.
The budget includes numerous highlights ranging from the purchase of five 66-passenger buses, the upgrading of the data center server cabinets, engineering lab computers in the high school and computer labs in the middle school to the continued large instrument replacement in the music department, the installation of wall padding at Stewart School, the purchase of choral risers for Hemlock School, an enclosed sideline score table and the continuation of security upgrades along with district-wide infrastructure and bandwidth upgrade projects.
Garden City is also working on a number of capital transfer projects that include the replacement of wood radiator enclosures in the middle school, the replacement of a hot water heater in Stewart School, a pony boiler in the high school along with partial auditorium lighting and storage containers. The bus garage will see the installation of new exterior lighting and the replacement of storage containers and a roof overhang. District-wide, plans include continued door lock replacement, the purchase of a large capacity mower and other projects that include abatement and pipe re-insulation as well as the aforementioned security upgrades that include cameras, door access and software.
Voters will not only be voting on the 2019-20 budget but three other propositions—the election of two board of education trustees, permission to use the remaining funds in capital reserve ($1.8 million) and the establishment of a new capital reserve ($15.8 million for 10 years). The latter two propositions have no impact on the budget or the tax levy.
If the budget is not passed, the district will have to adopt a contingency/austerity budget that would mean the additional reduction of more than $2 million, personnel, non-personnel, programs, capital, equipment and administrative expense. In addition, all contractual and debt service obligations for 2019-20 would remain in effect.