Onteora school district faces double-digit health insurance increase

Onteora Central School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Victoria McLaren continues to fine-tune the 2017/18 Onteora District Budget with a warning that employee health insurance could exceed the projected ten-percent increase. At the Board of Education’s February 21 meeting at Woodstock Elementary school, McLaren said, “Our first estimates indicated at least a 10 percent increase. There’s now talk that it could be 12-or-15 percent.” Final rates will be released in March.

With the health insurance increase, the current draft budget of $54,674,445 would project an increase of $1,451,667 or 2.73 percent. Of that, $843,904 is due to the insurance increase. Staying within the State’s tax cap guidelines of a 1.26 percent increase would then become more difficult, requiring the board to trim more than $450,000. McLaren stresses though, that the numbers could change. “As we go through the process we will increase and decrease,” she said, “as we adjust our staffing levels and our programs. So it’s certainly something we are keeping an eye on…”

The district departments are beginning to weigh in on their budget needs; transportation seeks an increase of $126,962 which includes the replacement of a 28 and 30 passenger bus, buildings and grounds is in need of equipment replacements at $63,000, and technology seeks an increase of $20,000 to budget a new technology director.