South Orangetown Central School District

2019-2020 Budget FAQ

How was the 2019-2020 proposed budget developed?
What’s in the 2019-2020 proposed budget?
Why is the proposed tax levy increase above 2%?
What is the school district doing to contain costs?
What happens if voters reject the budget?
Questions about voter registration or polling locations?

How was the 2019-2020 proposed budget developed?

Our administrative team works closely with our staff and Board of Education to develop a fiscally-responsible spending plan that is presented for public vote each May.

This year, as we reviewed program and operational needs for 2019-2020 and beyond, we looked for opportunities to fill in gaps and tie key short-term goals with our long-term strategic plan. A key piece of this effort has been reimagining how to utilize our current staff more effectively and leverage efficiencies found elsewhere to create new positions to address emerging needs.

What’s in the 2019-2020 proposed budget?

The proposed spending plan effectively and efficiently allocates resources to meet the academic, social and emotional needs of students, comply with state and federal regulations, and make program enhancements. It reflects a more creative approach to utilizing our limited resources for maximum long-term impact and our commitment to minimizing the burden on our taxpayers.

Next year’s proposed budget includes:

  • Creation of prevention centers at South Orangetown Middle School and Tappan Zee High School, staffed by a dedicated prevention counselor at each building (2 total)
  • Addition of 1 elementary school counselor to be shared by William O. Schaefer Elementary School and Cottage Lane Elementary School
  • Addition of Director of Safety, Security & Compliance to synchronize our safety efforts districtwide and create efficiencies
  • Addition of Coordinator of Data, Assessment & Accountability to inform data-driven decision-making and meet
    reporting requirements
  • Continued classroom redesigns

Why is the proposed tax levy increase above 2%?

Two primary factors are driving the proposed 3.72% tax levy increase. First, a component in New York State’s tax levy limit formula is the Allowable Levy Growth Factor, which is limited to the lesser of 2% or the change in the consumer price index (CPI). This year, the change in CPI is greater than 2%, which means that our Allowable Levy Growth Factor is “capped” at 2%. Second, the tax levy limit formula allows for capital exclusions which reflect the year-over-year change in capital spending from previously budgeted funds, but not from capital reserves or fund balance. Due to the increase in the CPI and the capital exclusions, the proposed 3.72% tax levy increase remains within the tax cap.

What is the school district doing to contain costs?

The school district constantly looks at ways to work smarter and more efficiently to meet needs that are aligned with our strategic plan. The budget development process begins in September, with a critical examination of enrollment, program demands, evolving needs of students, infrastructure needs, and mandates. We look at structures, systems and processes for how we do business to support our program. Here are some examples of cost-containment measures in place:

  • Shopping the market to ensure that we offer quality benefits at the lowest cost possible. Recently, SOCSD secured new dental and life insurance, and other ancillary benefits, to realize savings effective July 1, 2019. We’re also aligning our benefit structure to our school district fiscal year to allow for better planning going forward.
  • Slightly reduced overall staffing for 2019-2020 year based on enrollment against the schedules that we run at our schools.
  • Reliance on competitive bidding for various services and the purchasing of supplies, equipment and instructional materials.
  • Seeking alternative funding sources, including grant opportunities and property rentals, to increase revenues and reduce the burden on taxpayers.

One of the key challenges school districts face are unfunded and underfunded mandates. While mandates increase accountability and in many cases improve educational quality, they can also limit flexibility and impact how districts spend money, essentially, increasing the cost of operating a school district in New York State.


  • Retirement system contributions are State-mandated
  • Salaries and benefits are legally-binding contractual obligations
  • Special education costs (i.e. Individualized Education Plans)
  • Numerous plans and reporting requirements (approximately 150 per year)

In all, there are more than 150 of these mandates, which translates to the district having discretion over just 10-15% of total budgetary dollars. View the full list here:

What happens if voters reject the budget?

If voters do not approve the proposed budget, the Board of Education may put forward the same or a revised budget for a second vote OR adopt a contingency budget with a tax levy no greater than what was levied last year. If voters reject the spending plan twice, SOCSD must adopt a contingency budget which would require $2.9 million in cuts.

Questions about voter registration or polling locations?

Click here to go to the Voting Information page.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2019-2020 Proposed Budget Total:
$94, 755,161

Budget-to-Budget Increase:

Tax Levy Increase:

Send an email to [email protected].