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Voters to decide on $97.4 million proposed school budget with a 1.50 percent tax levy increase

2017-18 Proposal Preserves and Grows Student Programs

On Tuesday, May 16, voters in the Minisink Valley Central School District will decide on a $97.4 million proposed budget for the 2017-2018 school year. This budget increases spending by 1.39 percent, or $1.3M from the current year, and includes a 1.50 percent tax levy increase.  

The proposed 1.50 percent increase in the tax levy – total amount of money to be raised through property taxes – is within the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit of 3.93 percent tax cap, as defined by state law. As a result, residents will be eligible to receive the state’s property tax rebate, and budget approval will require a simple majority (50 percent plus one).

“We are pleased to propose a budget that advances our mission to prepare all our students for the college and career challenges of our time, while balancing the needs of our taxpayers in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Superintendent Brian C. Monahan.  

Residents will also decide on bus purchases (Proposition 2), and elect four candidates to the Board of Education.

Cost containment, increased Foundation Aid and tax levy

The district established its own self-funded health insurance plan during the 2016-17 school year. The self-funded plan allowed the district to enhance employee benefits while containing costs for the 2016-17 school year. 

Under the previous plan, the district would have incurred an 18 percent cost increase in health insurance benefits for 2017-18. Under its own self-funded plan, the district projects a 5 percent cost increase in health insurance benefits – a savings in excess of $1 million for 2017-18.

An estimated increase in Foundation Aid of $673,000 or 2.67 percent, combined with the following savings and revenue, will help balance Minisink’s 2017-2018 school budget:

  • Decreases in pension rates reduced projected expenditures by approximately $500,000
  • Tuition costs for out-of-district placements were reduced due to declining enrollment, resulting in cost savings of approximately $750,000
  • Projected decreases in natural gas and telephone rates should result in savings of approximately $25,000
  • Tax levy increase of 1.50 percent would generate approximately $645,000 in new revenue

2017-18 PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

New and reinstated positions and programs will expand student opportunity and enhance curriculum

  • Elementary School: Addition of two K-2 reading teachers, and two Academic Intervention Services (AIS) teachers 
  • Middle School: Expansion of the foreign language curriculum with the reinstatement of two teaching positions for grade 7; currently foreign language is only offered to students in grade 8 
  • High School: Addition of one English language arts (ELA) teacher, and one social studies teacher will increase scheduling options and elective offerings, including AP English through Syracuse University 
  • District-wide:
    Addition of a Technology Integration, Professional Development and Testing supervisor will advance the district’s technology capabilities, and enhance student achievement through the integration of technology instruction in the classroom, and through more consistent professional development for teachers
    - Addition of one physical education teacher will address class-section needs at the elementary and intermediate schools, and provide adaptive physical education for special education students 
  • Athletics:
    - Addition of varsity girls-golf and modified boys/girls lacrosse
    - Addition of two coaches for varsity and modified girls lacrosse and cross-country 
  • Extra-curricular: Reinstatement of six 5:15 p.m. late bus runs will encourage student engagement in extra-curricular activities.

 

ALSO ON THE BALLOT…

PROPOSITION 2: PURCHASE OF 12 SCHOOL BUSES 

Also on the May 16 ballot, voters will decide on a proposition for the purchase of 12 school buses in the amount of $968,035, as part of the district’s continuing 10-year replacement plan.  Anticipated bus purchases include two 66-passenger, one 72-passenger, three 30-passenger, three 29-passenger/wheelchair, and three 20-passenger/wheelchair buses. 

State transportation aid will fund approximately 75 percent, or $726,056, of the bus purchase costs, over a five-year period. 

Recognizing that older, high-mileage vehicles cost more to keep on the road, the replacement plan is designed to evenly spread out the cost of maintaining a 94-vehicle fleet that is both safe and efficient. 

By continuing the bus replacement plan, the proposed purchases would allow the district to retire 11 high-mileage buses – 140,000 to 231,000 miles – that are increasingly more costly to maintain.  

Planned replacements minimize the tax impact from year-to-year by maintaining a consistent investment in new buses. State aid in support of the bus replacement plan helps prevent fluctuations in bus purchase expenditures from one year to the next.     

BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTIONS

Residents will elect four members to the board of education. There are three 3-year-term seats commencing July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2020, resulting from the conclusion of the office terms of Shawn Cahill, Alfred Gibbs and John Odland. The recent passing of board member Paul Rickard vacated a non-expired seat, to be filled on or about May 16, 2017, and ending June 30, 2018. 

Voters will decide from the following candidates: Shawn Cahill, James Emery, Joseph Geidel, Alfred Gibbs, and John Odland.