The four-year financial forecast for the West Hempstead school district assumes the worst.
For instance, it imagines that the Eagle Avenue School building that the district owns will sit empty after when its lease expires at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. It assumes that state aid will show only moderate growth and that the district would see a downward trend in the number of students coming to West Hempstead High School from Island Park.
This is what would happen if "it keeps raining," said Richard Cunningham, the deputy superintendent for the West Hempstead school district, as he presented this information to the Board of Education and residents who attended Tuesday's budget workshop.
He also explained that the forecast is not a plan, it's not set in stone. It changes quite often -it's already been revised since Tuesday's meeting - and is purposely "pessimistic" so that the district can be prepared for the worst possible scenarios.
So what does it say about West Hempstead's future right now?
Right now, the district's current budget is running at a surplus at around $300,000, and "in 2013, there's neither a surplus or a deficit," Cunningham said, as he pointed to a graph depicting the forecast, He added, "This number for the future year should be zero."
Then in 2014, the district would have to start deficit spending. The forecast shows deficits over $500,000 for 2014, 2015 and 2016. This would force the district to use a substantial amount of its reserves, causing its unrestricted fund balance to drop from an estimated $2,891,969 in 2013 to $883,338* in 2016, which is as far as the forecast goes. The situation in later years could be worse if the district continues to deplete its reserves.
Meanwhile, expenditures are predicted to continue to rise steadily from $51, 862,022 in 2011 to $57,942,922 in 2016.**
You can view the full forecast above in our PDFs section.
Questions? What questions do you have about the forecast or that was presented Tuesday? Post your inquiries here and we'll share them with school officials.
*The revised version of the forecast released on March 9, three days after the meeting, estimates this figure to be $1,41,625 now.