By Shelley R. Clapper
The Warwick Valley Central School District Board gave their fourth formal budget presentation on Mon., Mar. 12.
Superintendent Dr. David Leach explained that the District has completed the rollover budget, which includes adjustments for anticipated changes such as salary increases, debt service, special education needs, student programs, student enrollment, new State mandates and security.
The District is committed to continued investment in safety and security with the possibility of adding a police officer at each building. Dr. Leach said that projections were now completed for health insurance premiums, energy and pension costs. Estimated State aid has also been calculated and the allowable increase in the tax levy has been calculated.
Funding Gap of $1.4 million
Dr. Leach indicated that, for the last several years, the District has projected a funding gap of more than one million dollars. The funding gap is the difference between expected revenue and estimated expenses. Dr. Leach said that this year the difference widened by $280,000 to a total deficit of 1.4 million dollars following the District’s decision to have a full-time police officer at each school.
Dr. Leach explained that declining enrollment in the District will help to close the funding gap. Other factors that will contribute to closing the gap include: nine teachers are retiring at a total of $750,000 and only four will be replaced. Approximately $300,000 will be a result of students enrolled in the high schools Career and Technical Education offerings, (Cosmetology and Criminal Justice and Video Production). In the past, these students attended BOCES Career and Technical Education in Goshen at an annual cost of about $12,000 for each student.
The new solar project is estimated to save the District $250,000 in the first year and there will be a six teacher reduction which will further reduce the budget gap by $72,000. The total amount from all these savings is about $1,372,000, which will help to reduce the budget gap for this year.
Proposed Increase in Tax Levy 2.95 percent
The proposed increase in the tax levy would be 2.95 percent, which is less than the 3.02 percent allowable under the State’s Tax Cap legislation.
At the School Board vote in May, there will be a separate proposition to purchase five new buses as replacement for five old buses, which will not increase the tax levy. The District will be buying three 65-passenger propane-powered buses at a cost of $118,959.30 each, for a total cost of $356,877.90; one 29-passenger bus at a cost of $57,043.47; and one 21-passenger wheelchair bus at a cost of $66,414.18.
The buses are being bought to replace old ones. The total estimated cost of the five buses is $485,000. Nearly 58 percent of the value of the buses ($279,360) would be returned to the District through transportation aid. The rest of the balance would be paid for from an existing Bus Reserve fund.
The public will also vote on a proposition to fund a Repair Reserve at a total of about $750,000. The purpose of this fund is to pay the cost of repairs that do not recur annually for capital improvements and equipment.
At present, repairs occur primarily at Pine Island School and Kings Elementary School. Dr. Leach explained that although King’s Elementary generates over $300,000 annually in rental income, the schools boilers are about 53 years old.
“The age of the boilers goes back to 1965. I don’t know how long these boilers are going to last. They will eventually not work anymore,” said Superintendent of Business Timothy Holmes.
The estimated cost for the large expenditure replacing the boilers is $1,000,000.
Holmes provided an overview of the BOCES Budget for 2018-19, which is projected at $12,941.439. This shows a decrease of $10,638 from the previous budget. The significant increases come from a $244,876 increase in Special Education and related services and $44,096 increase in technology costs, as well as other factors.
There are also reductions in the budget. There is a $10,000 reduction in guidance and a $65,000 reduction through shared contract transportation.
Senior Class Trip
Final approval was given for the senior class trip to Washington, D.C. and the Baltimore Inner Harbor, which will take place from Apr. 26 to Apr. 28.
Sports Merger with Florida
Approval was given for a merger with the Florida Union Free School District for football and swimming for the 2017-18 school year.
Middle School Band Program
During the Performing Arts Moment, students from the Middle School Band Program played under the direction of music teacher Peter VanDeWater.
Next Board Business Meeting
The next Board meeting will be held on Thurs., Apr. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center, located at 225 West St. in Warwick NY.