Tom Tolen /

Both the final Brighton Area Schools budget for this year, and the projected budget for next year, will be going up. The Brighton Board of Education passed the final revision on the 23-24 district budget and approved the projected 24-25 budget at is meeting Monday night. Both votes were unanimous.

The final budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30th is $119.9 million - up from the original figure of $115.8 million. Assistant Superintendent for Business & Finance David Jones says the revised figure reflects a 1% increase in revenues

The general fund budget figure for the fiscal year beginning July 1st is $126.5 million. That's up considerably from the $115 million general fund budget passed last June for the 23-24 fiscal year.

The projected fund balance for the current fiscal year is roughly $21 million, which aligns with the state’s recommended school district fund equity of between 15% and 20% of overall expenditures.

Jones says there are a number of factors which go into determining a school budget, one of the most important being the per-pupil aid from the state. He based his budget projections on the governor’s recommended 2.5% increase in state aid - from the current $9,608 per student to $9,848. It’s also based in part on a projected blended enrollment count between the Brighton schools and Shared Services.

Shared Services is a program in which school districts such as Brighton bring non-core curriculum courses to small, usually parochial and private schools which do not have the resources to offer them. By doing so, Brighton - which runs the biggest Shared Services program in the state - earns a portion of their state aid.

The projected, combined enrollment for the Brighton Area Schools and its Shared Services program is 10,087 - an increase of 328 full-time equated students, or FTEs. Board Trustee John Conely cautioned the board that the Shared Services program, which has been a major revenue enhancer for Brighton, won’t last forever and can’t be depended on year after year to balance the budget.

Built in to the projected budget for next year is staff expenses in the form of contracted pay increases for unionized school employees. The contract with the biggest union - the 334-member Brighton Education Association - calls for a 2% pay increase this year, and, on top of that, an additional estimated 2.4% - if the enrollment trigger is put into play.

The other unions, such as BESPA and the administrators’ union, also have scheduled pay increases. Likewise factored into the budget are two new, full-time elementary school counselors and one additional maintenance person.

The district will also be purchasing three new buses in the coming year and replacing three storage tanks at the bus garage. Jones cautioned that come Sept. 30th - the end of the current fiscal year at the federal and state levels - approximately $3.7 million in CARES Act dollars will come to an end.

Because property values have risen faster than inflation in Brighton, the district will be subject to a Headlee rollback. Headlee requires that property taxes rise no faster than the Consumer Price Index, which is the rate of inflation.

Since local property values have risen 7.3% in the last year, as opposed to an inflation rate of 5.1%, the property tax rate will be lowered and the district will be assessing 18 mills in total operating millage. However, the debt millage will remain the same, at 6.19 mills.