Highland presents $44.5 million school budget

By Stacia Donaldson
Posted 4/10/19

The proposed Highland Central School Districts 2019/20 school budget was unanimously approved by members of the Highland Board of Education at their April 2 meeting. The adoption of the proposed …

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Highland presents $44.5 million school budget

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The proposed Highland Central School Districts 2019/20 school budget was unanimously approved by members of the Highland Board of Education at their April 2 meeting. The adoption of the proposed budget comes ahead of the April 24 final approval deadline. The adopted school budget will be presented to the district voters prior to the public input session scheduled for May 7 at the Highland Board of Education meeting. The Highland Central School District 2019/20 Budget Vote will take place on May 21, 2019 at Highland High School.

With the release of New York State’s annual budget on April 1, the district will receive an increase in New York State aid of approximately $137,000. The district will see revenue increases next year as a result of staff retirements, decreases in district debt, and increased revenue from district investments. Highland Central School Districts proposed budget will use these revenue increases to counteract increases in the cost of employee health insurance and retirement, the additional expense of summer school services for special needs students, and the projected decreases in federal grants. Under the proposed budget, voters will see an increase in school taxes of approx. 1.12%.

The proposed budget, totaling $44,442,937, will include all items approved under the transportation referendum, the creation of a full time Elementary Technology Teacher, a full time School Psychologist position, and monetary increases to the athletics programs.

The two new positions are part of a three to five year master plan designed to allow the district to grow and adapt with educational advances. The adopted budget does not include cuts to staffing levels or school programs. Superintendent Bonjovi praised the work of Lissa Jilek and the Highland Central School District for creating a balanced budget and taking the time to carefully explain its features to the Board and the public.

More information on the adopted budget will be available on the districts website www.highland-k12.org.

The school budget vote is scheduled for May 21.

State Testing Begins for Grades 3-8

Statewide English Language Arts (ELA) examinations for grades 3-8 began April 1. Like most districts, Highland has struggled with a high percentage of students opting out of one or both of the state examinations.

Last year, 47% of Highland students in grades 3-8 declined to participate in the ELA New York State examination. Based on the first day of testing this year, the declination percentage was approx. 40%. Assistant Superintendent Sarah Dudley-Lemek sees the drop in declinations as progress.

Though controversial, the New York State ELA and math examinations give educators a better understanding of how its students are thinking and learning. Dudley-Lemek hopes that by educating and encouraging parents, more Highland students will participate in state examinations in the future.

The New York State ELA examinations will conclude on April 3 2019. The New York State Math Examinations are scheduled for May 2019.

Superintendent Conference Day 2019

The Highland Central School District hosted another successful Superintendent Conference Day on March 29, 2019. Principal Freer personally welcomed the newest students to Highland Elementary School for Kindergarten Screening Day.

Students entering Kindergarten in September had a chance to tour the elementary school, met with the kindergarten staff, and learned about bus safety. Highland Elementary School will welcome these students back in the beginning of September for Kindergarten Orientation.

Fifth grade teachers and sixth grade teachers had a meeting to discuss strategies that would help students transition from the Highland Elementary School to the Highland Middle School in the upcoming year. Teachers reviewed coursework and educational materials to ensure that student’s educational flow will not be interrupted. Fifth grade students will attend numerous orientations at the Highland Middle School to become better acclimated to the Middle School culture.

Meanwhile, 20 Highland Middle School educators visited Tech Valley High School in Rensselaer, NY. Tech Valley High incorporates project based learning and inquiry based learning methods on a large scale. Currently, some classrooms in the Highland Central School District are exploring project

based and inquiry based learning methods with their students.

Tech Valley High allowed the Highland educators a chance to see this project based learning in action with the hopes of implementing some of the concepts at the Highland Middle School.

Finally, back in Highland, educators at the Highland High School had the chance to participate in a mock superintendent’s hearing, a workshop on translanguaging for bilingual students, and a presentation from the Hudson Valley Writing Program through SUNY New Paltz.

Superintendent conference days provide the staff of the Highland Central School District time to collaborate with their peers and provides exposure to new educational concepts.

Art in the Highland Central School District

This year, the Highland Central School District Art Department will be holding a student art show at the Highland High School. The installation will be up just in time for the School Budget Vote on May 21.

Traditionally, the district art show has been a part of the Springfest festival in the Hamlet of Highland. This years change in venue will give residents a chance to view the instillation on their way to the polls.

The Highland Central School District Art Show showcases the artistic talent of Highland students in grades K-12. Pieces are selected by members of the Art Department. Please visit the Highland Central School District website for more information.

The next school board meeting will be held on April 24. This meeting is on a Wednesday and will include the BOCES vote.

The meeting will be held at the Highland High School.

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