Second budget presentation of 2024 focused on enrollment, revenue


Second budget presentation of 2024 focused on enrollment, revenue

March 7, 2024

Public presentations regarding the district’s proposed 2024-2025 budget continued on Thursday, February 15, 2024, during the Warwick Valley Central School District Board of Education meeting. The second in a series of public presentations that will continue into the spring, Thursday night’s presentation focused on Enrollment Projections, as well as Projected Revenue Budget, Payroll & Benefits.

The presentation was led by Warwick Valley Superintendent of Schools, Dr. David Leach.

Enrollment Projections

Student enrollment is projected to remain stable overall in the elementary and high schools, and the district is expecting a gain of 126 students (11.8%) in the middle school. In fact, we are projecting small gains in each of the next 10 years, which would create an overall increase of 166 students (4.5%) by 2033. 

Dr. Leach then elaborated on the projected peak enrollments through 2033 by grade configuration, and the gains when compared to the current enrollments:

  • Elementary (K 4): 1,321 students in 2029 (+55 students)
  • Middle (5 8): 1,194 students in 2033 (+126 students)
  • High School (9 12): 1,373 students in 2032 (+31 students)
  • District-wide (K 12): 3,842 students in 2033 (+166 students)

It is interesting to note, that even with this projected increase, the district has also experienced losses in each of the last 10 years due to displacement. This is when smaller kindergarten classes replace larger graduating classes. On average, the district gains students in transition to grades 17, while average maintenance is recorded to eighth grade, but those gains are offset by the losses through displacement. Private school enrollment has also declined since 2007, when 376 children (7.9%) of Warwick Valley resident students attended nonpublic schools.

“As we know, the vast majority of school districts throughout New York have a declining enrollment,” said Dr. Leach. “So, while we’ve become accustomed to having enrollment decrease, from the perspective of displacement — displacement meaning fewer new kindergartners than departing seniors — we continue to grow in all the other grade levels throughout the year.”

Projected Revenues, Payroll and Benefits

The budget development process has two core goals, to preserve academic programs and to remain within or below the tax cap threshold. To achieve these goals, the school board has consistently kept the tax levy increases at or below the limit requiring a simple majority vote, resulting in significant savings for taxpayers. In fact, in seven out of the last 10 years, Warwick Valley has been below the tax cap. The average annual tax levy increase over the past 10 years and has been 1.62%, and 2.77% over the past 20 years.

For the 2023-24 fiscal year, the tax levy was $66,580,963. As it currently stands in the Budget Development process, the 2024-2025 tax levy increase would be $2,505,086, resulting in a total tax levy of $69,086,049, a change of 3.76%. Dr. Leach emphasized some of the factors driving this year’s tax cap increase; among them were inflation and a decrease in building aid, from $2,703,568 to $2,374,154, a difference of $329,414. He also pointed out increases in both debt service ($375,080) and BOCES debt service ($102,744).

The District continues to find effective and creative ways to increase revenue from non-tax sources, which has become a significant contributor to the district’s total revenue. Money from non-tax sources in 2023-2024 totaled $4,226,275. In the current budget development process, non-tax revenue sources total $4,583,934, an increase of $357,659. Dr. Leach pointed out that about 68% ($3.09 million) of that is attributable to two things: tuition-paying students ($2,491,974) and rental income from the Pine Island and Kings Elementary buildings ($602,227).

Dr. Leach also touched on the benefits that Warwick Valley has through rental income.

“Pine Island is fully rented, Kings is fully rented, and we use that revenue in the operating budget as a non-tax source, which is significant,” said Dr. Leach. “Pine Island was empty for many years, but the BOCES program is in there now, which serves a number of our students. And, in speaking to Pine Island residents, they’re quite appreciative to see the school operational again, with children on the playground enjoying that beautiful historic building.” 

Dr. Leach shared that between the Pine Island and the Kings School building, that rental income is bringing in about $600,000. It is a significant amount of money, which has been a key to keeping the tax levy low over the years

It is important to note that 60% of the district’s 2024-2025 revenue would still come from the school tax levy. The projected total of $68,655,699 represents a $2,501,586 increase from last year. Another critical point to consider is that Warwick Valley’s foundation aid remains lower than other local districts with similar enrollment due to the NYS’s wealth ratio calculation. 

To close out the presentation, Dr. Leach touched on reserve fund allocation for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. Reserve funds include Retirement Contribution Reserves for both the Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System, Employees Benefit Accrued Liability Reserve (EBALR), Workers Compensation, Debt Service, and Unemployment. Reserve funds have been beneficial in managing the district’s financial stability, and the figures show an increase in revenue for 2024-2025 of $356,000.

The next two 2024-2025 budget presentations are scheduled for March 7, 2024, during the WVCSD Board of Education’s regular meeting. The topics of the two presentations are Transportation and a Revenue Update with Expenditures. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. inside the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center at the District Office. For up to date information on the 2024-2025 Budget Development process, please visit the district website:


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