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Balancing the Budget

Hastings Administration to Talk Budgeting in Upcoming Information Session

Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District administrators held the second “Budget 101” Informational session Thursday, January 14, to give the public a better understanding of how the school budget is developed each year.

After a presentation, questions from the audience will be encouraged.

“The first session offered an overview of all of the basic components of a school budget,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Valerie Henning-Piedmonte. “The next session will focus on how we plan to maintain and strengthen our programs and services without cutting staff and programs. Part of this proposal is also to restore a science position at the high school.”

Balancing the Budget image In the first session, which took place on December 15 via Zoom, Dr. Henning-Piedmonte and Business Official Maureen Caraballo introduced the key components of a school district budget.

“The purpose of it was to give people a grounding in the process,” said Caraballo. “As we get into presenting our upcoming budget, they will have a deeper understanding of everything.”

A main focus of the first meeting was the impact from the pandemic on the budget including how revenue and expenses have changed as a result of larger changes in the economy due to COVID-19. Also discussed was how the district determines compensation for employees.

“The operations of a school budget work somewhat like other service industries from the standpoint that there will always be yearly labor cost increases,” said Dr. Henning-Piedmonte. “Employee salary increases are based upon collective bargaining agreements and individual employment contracts not part of a collective bargaining agreement.”

According to Dr. Henning-Piedmonte, Hastings has traditionally found savings by not replacing openings created by retirements and by making reductions in every budget code.

“The problem with that approach is there is nothing else to cut from our budget without seriously affecting the quality of our schools. If we reduce staff, class sizes will increase and fewer options will be available to students.” said Dr. Henning-Piedmonte. “We will explore our proposal for how to balance a school budget through zero-based budgeting, a slight percentage increase in what we can levy, and a small amount of fund balance.”

Though administrators take current events into account when developing the budget, another major factor is also estimating and planning for the future.

“When we are creating our budget we try to build one that’s sustainable over the course of time,” said Caraballo. “We’re looking for ways in which we can look into the long term picture of maintaining schools.”

You can view the first session here

You can view the second session here