ECS: budget, board seat and principal search
The Eldred Central School (ECS) District Board of Education, at its meeting on April 19, adopted its proposed 2012-13 budget in the amount of $15,918,581, following many months of relentless cuts. The adopted budget reduces spending in the amount of $612,419, or 3.7%, when compared to the 2011-2012 budget. The tax levy will increase 2.0% and is within the constraints of the Property Tax Cap Legislation for simple majority voter approval.
The official start to the school budget preparation began in September 2011 with presentations on cuts necessary to reduce the budget for the state-mandated property tax cap. The administrative, capital and instructional components of the budget were presented to the public at various workshops since.
A budget hearing and a “Meet the Candidates” forum have been scheduled for May 3 at the Eldred Junior-Senior High School in Eldred to provide an opportunity for the community to meet the candidates running for one available board seat. School business administrator William Thornton will present current budget information.
Paul Clark, who served on the board in the past, thanked the current board for their work. “That’s the best budget I’ve seen in five years,” he said. “I want to go on record to say that, and ask my supporters to vote ‘yes’ on the budget.”
Clark then explained why he is running for the open seat on the school board. “I want to show the school district what a consensus could really be if everybody is at the table,” said Clark. “There’s a feeling in the community that two teachers on the board are too many and that some of the decisions are slanted toward teachers. We have a vast majority of people that don’t come into this room because they’re afraid. I can bring that group into this room and build a stronger consensus.”
“Am I allowed to feel offended?” responded ECS board president Douglas Reiser. “This board in the last four years has had a goal to be as transparent as possible.”
“I have access to places where you would feel like an outsider,” said Clark. “I have connections in the Ukrainian community, with the seniors and with people who work with their hands.”
The budget vote and school board election will take place on May 15, from 11 a.m. through 9 p.m. at the high school. The document “Frequently Asked Questions About the Budget” has been placed on the school website at
www.eldred.k12.ny.us//site/Default.aspx?PageID=91 along with additional information to help the public understand the budget. Contact Thornton at 845/456-1100, ext. 5146, with any questions.
In other matters, ECS superintendent Robert Dufour reported on the status of the search for the new George Ross Mackenzie Elementary School principal. Dufour gave an overview of survey results completed by 243 respondents. Some of the most common responses called for a clear and inspiring vision, a love of children and the ability to relate to them, ability to work well with teachers, a love of teaching, and the creation of a just, fair and caring school culture.
Dufour said that 138 individuals applied for the position and were winnowed down to 16 qualified candidates. He has begun the interview process and will further narrow the pool to three. On May 2, committee-based interviews will begin.
Teachers, support staff, students, community members, parents and administrators will conduct those interviews and complete surveys, which will be collated. The board will interview the final three candidates during the week of May 7. Following the budget vote on May 15, Dufour will make the final recommendation to the board, with an anticipated start date of July 1.
Reiser reported that Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther has secured an additional $200,000 of state aid for the district. “Ms. Gunther attributed the funds directly to the financial situation that the district finds itself in due to the return of the money on the tax levy from last year,” said Reiser. “Had Mr. Dufour, Mr. Thornton and myself not met with Aileen and John Bonacic in the fall to discuss our financial situation, we would not have realized this additional money.”
Reiser and Dufour also acknowledged the efforts of ECS faculty association president Zita Yennie, who also met with Gunther.
Clark was a leading proponent of the return of surplus funds to the tax levy last year.