By Shelley R. Clapper
The Warwick Valley Central School District Board of Education met on Mon., Feb. 12 for their second formal budget presentation. Superintendent Dr. David Leach said that a funding gap of about $870,000 is projected in the upcoming budget. He explained that the funding gap is the difference between expected revenue and estimated expenses.
To close this gap, Dr. Leach explained that the District is considering cutting staff positions through attrition and through the retirement of about eight senior teachers. He said that cuts will also be made at the administrative level, with a possible reorganization of the Pupil Personnel Services office from two to one central office administrators.
Other Major Reductions in the Budget
Dr. Leach spoke about other reductions in the proposed budget. He said that the increased cost of health insurance would be seven percent as opposed to the originally anticipated 10 percent. The cost of contract transportation would also be reduced. The need for a school lunch general fund support has been eliminated, explaining that the lunch program has been in the black for the last two years. Also, there will be a decrease in the cost of electricity due to savings from the solar field.
Revenue from Non-Tax Sources
Dr. Leach stressed the importance of continuing to raise money from non-tax sources to help with the discrepancy. He explained that the former Kings Elementary School building will soon be 100 percent rented, bringing in revenue of over $300,000 a year. Leach also said a high percentage of students who reside in Greenwood Lake come to the Warwick High School.
“Our fiscal stress and credit rating continues to be one of the best in the region,” said Dr. Leach. “In addition, this year money from the appropriated fund balance would be added to the revenue. We are expecting a greater than $200,000 increase in revenue from non-tax sources.”
New York State Aid
Dr. Leach pointed out to the School Board that comparably-sized School Districts in the region receive more New York State aid. For instance he said the most similar sized District to Warwick receives about 17 million more in New York State aid, comprising about 44 percent of its revenue rather than 28 percent for Warwick.
Dr. Leach spent considerable time at the meeting explaining State aid. He said that early school budget calculations are based on numbers from the State executive budget and that these numbers do often change. The deadline for the state budget adoption is Sun., Apr. 1.
Dr. Leach continued saying, “The actual State aid numbers may not be known until August. This is because several categories of State aid are expense-driven, meaning that the District is reimbursed a percentage of the cost of certain items, such as capital projects and certain BOCES services.”
He further explained that since the District will not have a final total for yearly expenditures until the school year ends on Jun. 30, estimates are used in calculating the proposed budget.
“This is why you may see an adjustment to State aid amounts after the end of the fiscal school year,” Dr. Leach explained.
Allowable Tax Increase of Three Percent
Dr. Leach announced that by the schools calculation, the allowable level of the tax increase is about three percent. Dr. Leach then took a historical look at the average tax levy increases in the Warwick District. He showed that over the last three years the average tax increase has been about 1.06 percent. Over the last five years school taxes have increased less than 1.7 percent and over the last ten years the average increase has been less than 2.11 percent.
The next budget presentation will be held on Mon., Feb. 26 at the Sanfordville Elementary School, located at 144 Sanfordville Rd. in Warwick.
Solar Project Starts Generating Electricity
In other news, it was announced that the Districts solar power field began generating electricity on Tues., Feb. 6. The power generated by the solar project will feed into the Orange & Rockland power grid and in exchange, the District will receive a per/megawatt monetary credit, with the District estimating an annual savings of about $300,000.
At the beginning of the meeting two members of the Warwick Police Department were present, Lieutenant John Rader and Officer David Serviss. Serviss was introduced as the newly hired Student Resource Officer at the middle school. Dr. Leach thanked them for their contribution to school security and for providing a visible presence at the school buildings.
Van Gelder First Place in Science & Humanities Symposium
Dr. Leach announced that Garret Van Gelder has earned first place at the Eastern New York Annual Subregional Science and Humanities Symposium. Garret was one of five seniors from Mrs. Reece’s Science Research class that presented the results of their original scientific research. Garret will advance to the Upstate NY Junior Science and Humanities Symposium to be held at the University of Albany on Wed., Mar. 7 and Thurs., Mar. 8.
Grundfast Receives Mars Generation Award
Dr. Leach commended Warwick High School senior, Jacqueline Grundfast, for receiving the prestigious Mars Generation award. She has been named among the Mars Generation “24 Under 24 Leaders and Innovators in STEAM and Space.” Grundfast established the Astronomy Club at the high school and secured funding from the community to build a robotic telescope for the community, promoting night sky exploration.
Beauty & the Beast
The Warwick High School Drama Club will present their production of “Beauty and the Beast” on Fri., Mar. 16 at 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Mar. 17 at 1 p.m.; and Sat. Mar. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
High School Cosmetology Class Field Trip
The Board gave their approval for a field trip for the high school cosmetology class to attend the International Beauty Show, to be held on Tues., Mar. 6 at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City.
Sanfordville Elementary Band & Strings Program
Students from the Sanfordville fourth grade Band and Strings Program played during the Performing Arts Moment at the Board meeting. Music teachers Ashley Head and Tamara Moser introduced the students. Initially in the program, band students learn how to assemble and clean their instruments. The next step Head explained is that they go over how to play a sound and then jump into scales: Do Re Me Fa Sol La Ti Do – transferring those skills from chorus/recorder in third grade to fourth grade instruments.
Students shared some fun facts about their instruments.
Finn Maxcy said, “A fun fact I learned is that you need a reed to play.”
Hannah Sansone spoke about her clarinet saying, “A fun fact I learned is: We have the most parts of our instrument, more than everybody else – seven different pieces!”
Jaimie McVeigh said, “A fun fact is that the clarinet has at least 24 keys.”
Tommy Scarpaci said, “A fun fact that I learned is that you can make the same note, high or low!”
Strings music teacher Tamara Moser shared how students have the opportunity to perform in public. They prepare for concerts and for All County and NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) auditions. Moser said that student cellist Nathan Conley has been selected for All County. He then performed his audition piece for the Board.
Next Regular Board Meeting
The next regular School Board meeting will be held on Mon., Mar. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center, located at 225 West St. in Warwick.