Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

January 29, 2013

Retirement benefits to hit schools strong

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — PENDLETON –– Increases in the Teacher and Employee Retirement Systems are expected to hit school districts hard across the state.

And Starpoint is no exception.

At a meeting Monday night, Jonathan Andrews, the district’s director of administrative services, said the increase is expected to be around $800,000 for the teacher retirement system and $141,000 for the employee system.

The teacher rates are expected to jump anywhere between 15.5 and 16.5 percent from the current year’s 11.84 percent. If they were to stay at 12.5 percent, almost $700,000 could be cut from that estimate, Andrews said.

The almost $950,000 increase makes up the largest portion of the projected $1.1 million increase in benefits for Starpoint’s 2013-14 budget. The district is slated to spend just over $10 million on retirement, health and other benefits.

At about 2.5 percent, benefits are the largest expected increase in the budget, even more than staffing.

“These are mandated costs, there is no wiggle room here at all,” Andrews said.

To help, the district cut close to $250,000 from the operations and maintenance portion of the budget, most of which was from utilities savings. There is a slight $6,629 increase in transportation.

The Starpoint board has been looking at the 2013-14 budget in pieces, spending a meeting on a few topics instead of combing through the entire spending plan. After Monday’s meeting, the vast majority — about 90 percent — of the budget has been covered, Andrews said.

In its current form, the budget is a 3 percent or $1.3 million increase in spending. But that does not include smaller items like athletics, BOCES costs, technology, textbooks and materials, central office, curriculum and instruction. They will be covered at a future meeting.

The current school year’s budget is $45.3 million.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

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