Eldred school budget makes allowances for state aid cuts

By SUSAN WADE 
Posted 4/28/20

ELDRED, NY — The Eldred school board held its regularly scheduled meeting on April 21 via Zoom. The call-in information was posted on the district website and 21 participants were …

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Eldred school budget makes allowances for state aid cuts

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ELDRED, NY — The Eldred school board held its regularly scheduled meeting on April 21 via Zoom. The call-in information was posted on the district website and 21 participants were registered. 

The connection was extremely poor and the participants who called in, including three board members, stated that they had difficulty hearing the information being shared by those who had gathered in the high school library. 

Despite the bad transmission, the board approved, by unanimous vote of 5-0, four initiatives: the 2020/2021 budget of $18,364,424; to include on the ballot the funding of the Sunshine Hall Free Library of $15,500; approval of the appointments to the BOCES administrative board, including the district’s representative Carol Bliefernich; and the filing of the state-required property tax report card. 

The board stated their disappointment at having to renege on earlier promises of returning the upcoming year’s tax rates to the 2018/2019 rates.

The proposed budget includes property tax revenues of $12,172,000 and reflects an increase of 3.24% over 2018/2019 rates. This increase is to make up the expected decrease in state education aid.

The increase creates an additional $385,000 of revenue over the previously-submitted budget to offset the lost state aid. Budgeted aid decreases 14%, compared with the amounts budgeted for the current year.

The budget incorporates not filling two vacancies due to retirements, the internal filling of a position on the cleaning staff, operating one 3rd grade class rather than two, and deferring the anticipated hiring of special education and technology teachers. 

The district has contingency plans in place to react to further cuts in state aid, which can occur throughout the school year as determined by the state education department. The further possible reductions include cutting late bus runs, collapsing two 1st grade classes into one, and not filling vacancies in the food service area if the cuts reach 25%. Further cuts in sports, transportation, equipment and administration would precede a worst-case scenario of cutting pre-K and kindergarten as well as some high school offerings. 

The board emphasized the importance of passing the proposed budget. To not do so would further jeopardize the district’s financial position because the positive effects of the Millennium compressor station would not be realized. 

A copy of the budget, the property tax report card and the proposed tax rates are posted on the district’s website. 

Nanci Davis has submitted a petition to run for the open board position to be effective July 1. It was noted that additional petitions will be accepted beyond the original due date, owing to the difficulty the state-mandated “Pause” order has created in collecting signatures. 

There is much speculation but not a lot of answers regarding the uncertainty of the vote. The first uncertainty is the date itself. The guidance from the state is that the vote will occur after June 1 but not on a specific date. Another uncertainty is whether the state will allow (or mandate) voting by mail. Also, it is currently unknown what the timing would be for a second vote if the first vote results in a defeated budget.

The board accepted the resignations of teacher Sue Schadt and teaching assistant Patty Guerriera, both of whom are retiring effective July 1, 2020.

The next meeting is scheduled for May 14, 2020 at 6 PM, which will be closed to the public but available through remote connection. The information for joining the meeting will be posted on the district’s website as the meeting date approaches. 

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