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Garden City Life - Schools

Garden City Public Schools’ “Question of the Week”

In order to clarify the complex budget issues facing Garden City Public Schools as it formulates the 2013-14 budget, the district continues its “Question of the Week” feature to provide information and address concerns expressed by residents. A complete listing of the questions and answers will be posted on the district’s website: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us.

The next question and answer concerns obligations for school improvement projects and the bonds to fund them:

Question of the Week:

In addition to mandated pension contributions, a second driver of the 2013-2014 school district budget is debt service. When will these obligations be fulfilled?

Garden City Public Schools’ proposed 2013-14 budget contains an increase of $605,029 for debt service. This is the increase for the combined monies owed for three bonds: the 2009 School Investment Bond, the 2005 middle school athletic field bond, and the 1999 bond for district-wide building improvements, plus the district’s Energy Performance Contract (EPC). In 2013-14, the district’s total debt service is $6,578,879 (see chart below).

The debt service increase accounts for 0.65 percent of the proposed tax levy increase for 2013-14; mandated pension costs to the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) total 2.31%. Together, these constitute 2.96 percent of the proposed 3.19 percent (with STAR) tax levy increase.

The bulk of the debt service is owed on the district-wide 2009 School Investment Bond, a comprehensive expansion, restoration, and modernization program that was approved by community vote on October 27, 2009. A wealth of information about the bond is included on the “Bond Referendum Page” under the “Board of Education” tab of the district website: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us.  

The implementation of work on the bond proved to be “exquisite timing,” explained Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen. “Due to the economic conditions and school district’s strong financial rating, we received a low bond rate, and almost all of the projects came in under anticipated costs.”

As illustrated below, debt service (including the EPC) will dramatically drop off by $1.25 million in 2016, stay virtually flat for three years, and then dramatically drop another $1.6 million in 2019 when the total debt service will be $3.9 million. All debt service is set to be completed in 2022.

Debt service is just one of the many components of the proposed 2013-14 school district budget. For complete information, visit the “Budget Information” section on the district’s home web page: www.gardencity.k12.ny.us.

The district also welcomes Garden City residents to attend board of education regular and work sessions to ask questions and voice concerns. A calendar of these meetings is listed on the district website under “Board of Education.”