Report: Change the school boundaries

| 12 Oct 2017 | 05:43

By Nancy Kriz
— Monroe-Woodbury School District officials have released an executive summary of a report completed by the Questar III BOCES State Aid and Financial Planning Service saying it’s in the district’s long-term interest to approve the school district boundary line adjustment between the district and the Kiryas Joel School District.
Questar III BOCES and district officials said allowing the KJ school district to expand by 220 acres would have “an immediate but manageable negative impact on the district’s finances. However, over the long term, it appears MWCSD would be better off relinquishing rather than retaining the 220 acres.”
The report was developed by both groups to help determine the impact of allowing the KJ School District to expand by 220 acres, making it co-terminus with the boundary of the proposed Town of Plan should voters approve that plan in November.
Specifically, the estimated cost that Monroe-Woodbury would avoid, if it approves the school boundaries change, exceeds revenues that would be available to offset such costs by $1,970,279. The district’s 2017-18 budget totals $171.2 million.
In the short term period, defined as just after an annexation would take place, the study projected how district state aid and school taxes can be expected to be impacted in the short term. It also identified savings the district should realize after the annexation is completed.
The long period is defined as years into the future when the currently sparsely populated 220 acres are developed with up to 15 housing units per acre and as many as 13,409 residents.
Much of the 220 acres are expected to house families who will ultimately have school age children.
A closer look at the numbersHighlights are:
• The study estimated that 6,757 new students from the 220 acres may ultimately attend private religious schools, 63 may be enrolled in KJ district special class programs for students with disabilities (SWD) and four may be sent to Private Chapter 853 Schools for SWD, for a total of 6,824 students.
• In addition the study also projected the cost of education and other services these future students may require once the 220 acres are developed. These projected future costs are costs that Monroe-Woodbury would avoid by allowing the boundary change to occur.
• The study also projected future revenues Monroe-Woodbury might generate to offset future costs.
Short-term lossesThe short-term revenue impact highlights are:
• Officials estimated that upon annexation, the district would lose $880,376 in school tax revenue, offset by a net state aid increase of $54,648. Modest losses of taxable property make school districts look less wealthy, resulting in small positive increases in wealth adjusted aid ratios. This leads to modest increases in state aid payable, according to the summary.
• Officials also estimated the district will receive non-resident tuition of $239,380 tuition, paid by the KJ district, for 20 general education students living on the 220 acres who attend the Monroe-Woodbury. Upon annexation, these students would become residents of KJ district. They need to continue to attend school in Monroe-Woodbury because KJ only offers in-district programs for students with disabilities. Virtually all non-disabled KJ students attend private religious schools, known as yeshiva.
• The net loss of revenue, attributable to annexation would be $586,348.
Short-term savingsHowever, savings attributable to the boundary change include:
• The district is expected to realize savings of $67,367 from no longer having to transport 107 students living on the 220 acres who would become residents of the KJ district.
• Three students living on the 220 acres are currently attending special education programs at KJ district with non-resident tuition paid by Monroe-Woodbury. Upon annexation, these students would become residents of the KJ district, saving Monroe-Woodbury $163,821.
• Two students who reside on the 220 acres attend non-public school in the KJ district and receive special education services provided by KJ. The KJ district is charging Monroe-Woodbury $11,300 for these services. The district will save the $11,300 when these students become KJ district residents upon annexation.
• The savings tied to annexation total $242,488.
The short-term impact of annexation would be net loss or revenue shortfall of $343,860. This shortfall would need to be made up through a tax increase, increases in other sources of revenue and/or reductions to Monroe-Woodbury’s budgeted expenses.
Long-term lossesThe long-term impact on lost revenue is:
• Once and assuming the 220 acres are fully developed/populated, Monroe-Woodbury would receive an estimated increase in revenue of $5,832,174 from school taxes on the 220 acres, if the KJ boundary line adjustment was not approved.
• Primarily as result of increases in taxable real property value, district state aid would decrease by $151,827.
• This decrease would be offset by increases in expense-based aids including textbook aid and transportation aid. The additional textbook aid would total $397,498 for 6,824 new resident students expected to live on the 220 acres in the future. Transportation aid would increase by an estimated $6,841,674 to transport as many as 6,824 additional students. Overall, state aid is estimated to increase by $7,087,345.
• The net additional revenue attributable to serving 6,824 additional students is estimated to be $12,919,519.
Long-term savingsFuture costs the district would avoid are:
• Officials estimated the district would incur a total cost of $11,117,115 to transport as many as 6,824 additional students ultimately expected to live on the 220 acres, if the boundary change was not approved.
•The district would also incur a net estimated cost of $3,331,251 to send an estimated 63 students with disabilities to KJ’s special education programs. This cost is net of offsetting state and federal aid.
• It would cost the district $89,642 to send four students to special education programs at private Chapter 853 schools for students with disabilities. This cost is net of private excess cost aid.
• Officials estimated it might cost the district $351,790 to provide limited special education services to as many as 227 new non-public school students ultimately living on the 220 acres. These students are called “Parentally Placed Nonpublic School Students With Disabilities.”
• Officials estimated future costs to be avoided by Monroe-Woodbury attributable to approving the school boundary shift of 220 acres total $14,889,798.
The report was posted on the district’s website on Oct. 6.
The full report is also available to the public.