The Warwick Valley Central School District Board of Education recently held the first of several 2018-19 school budget work sessions. Superintendent Dr. David Leach led the presentation, laying out the District’s objectives as they develop the coming school year’s spending plan.
“We approach each budget season with two goals: enhance student opportunities and maintain our commitment to fiscal responsibility,” Dr. Leach told the school board. “Throughout the past five school years, the average increase in the tax levy has been 1.67 percent. The District now generates almost $3.4 million annually from non-tax revenue comprised primarily of tuition and rental payments. This revenue helps the District to maintain its strong academic program.”
As the budget process continues, administrators and Board members will consider the results of a 2017 exit poll of District voters. In the exit poll, respondents identified the items and programs they considered “essential” and include:
- High quality teachers
- Honors/Advanced placement offerings
- Class size
- Full-day kindergarten
- Up-to-date technology
- Course offerings in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
“These are the things that our community has told us are very important to them and we need to honor that as we move forward in the budget process,” said Dr. Leach.
The Warwick Valley Central School District is currently operating under a $90.1 million budget for the 2017-18 school year. Voters approved that budget by a margin of 71.3 percent, with 1,289 yes votes to 519 no votes.
Dr. Leach told the Board that creating the District budget is a year-long process and expenditures, staffing levels, revenue sources, and contracts are continuously reviewed. By January, directors and principals are meeting with the central office administrator about their department and building budgets. New programs and course offerings are considered, as are the estimated cost of health and retirement contributions, inflation, and state mandates.
Also in January, New York State releases its executive budget proposal, which provides school business officials with an estimate of how much state aid revenue they may anticipate.
Dr. Leach noted that the rising cost of health insurance, unfunded state mandates and contractual obligations can present a challenge, but Warwick Valley also has many innovative and efficient cost-saving measures in place, including co-operative purchasing, revenue from rental property, and the new solar project, which alone will result in about $250,000 in energy costs each year.
Over the course of the budget process, information about the spending plan will be posted to the District website at warwickvalleyschools.com. Information will also be published in local newspapers and the annual Budget Newsletter will be mailed to residents.
Budget presentations and discussions are also scheduled for the following Board of Education meetings. All meetings are held at 7 p.m. in the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center, located at 225 West St. in Warwick:
- Feb. 26: Budget Presentation 3, at a work session of the School Board.
- Mar. 12: Presentation 4, at a regular meeting of the School Board.
- Apr. 9: Presentation 5, at a work session of the School Board.
- Apr. 19: Presentation 6, when the School Board is expected to adopt a proposed 2018-19 budget.
- May 7: Public Hearing
- Warwick NY residents will vote on the budget on Tues., May 15.