Apr 14, 2014 Joe Genco Uncategorized
The Skaneateles Board of Education voted to adopt its 2014-15 operating budget and spending plan at its April 8 meeting.
The total budget will be $30.195 million with a $23,148,066 tax levy. The tax levy will increase by 1.64 percent from the previous year, which is the maximum increase allowed by the state-imposed tax cap, Business Manager Doug Tomandl said.
More detailed information about the budget is available on the district’s website.
Tomandl also shared projections for the district’s fund balances. For the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the district is projected to have $419,460 of revenue in excess of expenses. This is due to multiple factors such as retirements, consolidation of administrator positions and state aid for the full-day kindergarten conversion coming in earlier than expected, he said.
According to its most recent estimates, the district will have a fund balance of $3.152 million at the end of June. Though $1.895 million of that is held in funds reserved for specific purposes (such as capital projects and turf replacement), the rest can be transferred to the general fund to balance the budget, he said.
This strategy allowed the district to balance its budget while obeying the tax cap and maintaining all programs and staff not already reduced due to declining enrollment.
Since the district stayed within the cap, its residents qualify for the new state-issued property tax rebates, Tomandl said. Homeowners will receive a rebate equal to the increase of their property taxes from last year.
Qualifying for the rebate next year will not be so easy, however.
“The thing that’s really, really scary for a district that is very heavily dependent on its tax levy is that … the second year, we still have to follow all the rules from year one, but you have to come up with a plan to reduce your tax levy by 1 percent,” Tomandl said. “It’s a lot of money, you’re talking $231,000 is 1 percent.”
Residents of the district will vote on the budget along with two referendums (for a facilities capital project and a purchase of two buses) on May 20. There will also be two Board of Education seats up for election with Geralyn Huba and Kathryn Carlson’s terms both ending this year. Interested candidates can pick up a petition at the district office and submit it with 25 signatures by 5 p.m. on April 21 to qualify for the ballot.
—The board heard a presentation from Middle School Principal Gary Gerst and several teachers on the district’s new Response to Intervention plan. The group has been developing the plan, segmented by age groups, to replace its current Academic Information Services plan, which is mandated by the state Individual Disability Act.
The purpose of the plan is to identify students who are at risk of falling behind the curriculum and recommending them for special education. The new plan uses a three-tier system and evaluates students on multiple factors including informal assessments.
The group presented the plan for grades kindergarten through four and will be completing grades 5 through eight and nine through 12 in coming months, Gerst said.
—The district accepted a $39,261 donation from the Skaneateles Education Foundation for three grants. $27,976 will be used to buy a 3D printer to be used by middle school and high school engineering and technology classes. $2,276 will be for the “Engineering is Elementary” program in State Street Intermediate School. $9,009 will be for a “21st century data collection” program in the high school.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.