Last week the Marlboro School Board adopted their 2020-21 school budget of $58,363,438, which keeps all programs in place and includes the addition of an athletic trainer, several more student clubs and the summer program at the high school.
Superintendent Michael Brooks said they started with a zero-based budgeting model and went through everything line by line.
“We worked with our business office, all of our departments, our buildings and our administrative team and we built this budget from scratch. So every line is filled with the money that’s needed based on several years’ worth of spending patterns and also budget requests,” he said. “We are confident in keeping our budget to budget increase at zero so there is no difference in the total budget from the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year.”
Brooks said if any changes happen in Albany concerning state aid money he will come back to the school board to discuss, “options, priorities and a direction going forward.”
As is required, the board broke down the budget into three categories: Administration costs totaling $5,270,477; Program at $44,072,895 and Capital at $9,020,066.
The allowable amount to be collected in the 2020-21 tax levy is $36,331,599. This is a $679,428 increase from the present school year levy, which was $35,652,170. This 1.91% percent increase for next year is the same as the current school year. If the district has to go to a contingency budget that figure the budget will be $58,266,338, a drop of $97,100.
The district is anticipating $17,267,120 in state aid, $1,290,358 from a PILOT agreement and will tap $3,474,361 from the appropriated fund balance.
The major cost increases for the 2020-21 school year are in salaries that jumped by $417,608; health insurance rose by $239,788; transportation costs grew by $130,276 and special education increased by $330,042. There were two areas that decreased: the ERS/TRS retirement expense lines by $184,280 and the debt service by $338,842.
With the new budget, residents with a home assessed at $200,000 in Marlboro will see an increase over last year of $107.20; in Plattekill the increase will be $125.45 and in the Town of Newburgh it will be $106.12. The assessment calculations are based on the 2019/20 valuations by the town.
The Public Hearing on the school budget is scheduled for May 28th and an email, a link and phone number will be provided on that day to submit questions. The budget vote itself will be done only by mail due to the current health crisis. Ballots with return postage will be mailed out and must be returned by 5pm on June 9th. The library ballot will also be included in this package. The ballots will be counted by school board approved election inspectors, starting on June 10th.
Residents may email any questions concerning the 2020-21 budget to the Superintendent at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Assistant Superintendent email@example.com.
The board approved the 2020-21 budget by a vote of 6 to 1. Board member Joann Reed was the sole no vote.
“I am having a hard time with this, I’m sorry. I’m gonna say no. I have people out of work and a lot of people hungry,” she said.
Superintendent Brooks said with school now closed for the rest of the 2019-20 year, a discussion is taking place on what graduation will look like and how the district will honor this year’s graduates. He said everyone’s number 1 option is to hold a regular graduation ceremony, “That is something we’re still holding out hope for but obviously there are some constraints that we’re going to have to work through if that’s going to happen but that all comes at the discretion of the Governor.” Presently, the Governor’s executive order does not allow gatherings of more than 10 people, which precludes a traditional graduation ceremony.
“We will do something that truly maximizes the senior experience as best we possibly can. We want to make sure we send these fine young academicians and scholars off to a wonderful life after high school and we’re going to try to find the best way to make that celebration happen and put together something that is unique to them and is a unique experience to their senior year.”
Football coach Brian Beck initiated a Friday Night Lights evening and passed it off to Jonah O’Donnell, “who ran with it” and worked with Assistant Superintendent Mike Bakatsias, Jerry Taddeo and Joe Indelicato that streams seniors names across the football field scoreboard and also live on our You tube page every Friday night from 7 to 8pm until June 26th.”
Brooks said in addition High School Principal Ryan Lawler continued a tradition of honoring the 10 top High School Seniors, including the 2020 Valedictorian, with a motorcade drive-by to celebrate and recognize their many academic achievements.
Brooks took a moment to recognize Tom Corcoran who has placed congratulatory signs on the lawn of every graduate of the Class of 2020 at his own expense.
“It was really one of those things that exemplifies what Tommy is; he’s just a top notch person for this community and just loves the kids and does everything for them that he possibly can. Tommy, thank you so much.”
Brooks said the district will continue to work on ways to honor the Class of 2020, “and make this experience as spectacular as we possibly can.
Brooks said in April the Snack Shack served 7,242 breakfasts, lunches and snacks, “a little over 21,000 meals, just some fantastic work by some dedicated folks; leadership from Fred Callo and a special thank you to Cindy Jennison, Liz Morgan and Kathy Schaeffer, they do all the preparing of the food and they staff the Snack Shack. Thank you so much for what you do for our families and obviously it’s needed and it’s greatly appreciated by all of us.”
Brooks said the online learning continues every day.
“We’re beginning to turn our attention to what our fall is going to look like. Obviously, we’re at the edge of our seats trying to understand what the Governor is going to want us to do and also what the state education department will direct but we’re going to need some guidance from boards of health. I want to report to you that in the last four days more than 148,000 websites were viewed through our online platform. There is a lot going on out there and a lot of work.” He thanked the students and staff for an unanticipated May and June, “but I know everyone in this community can rise to that challenge.”
Robin Hecht, Director of Curriculum, said students have been contacted by the district’s nursing staff, social workers, guidance and the secretarial staff.
“They have reached out to 828 students and about 400 families at the Middle School and 490 families at the high school to check in and see how they are doing academically and what kind of support they need, then coming back and providing that.” she said.
Hecht has categorized 3 students at the elementary school, 6 at the Middle School and 6 at the High School as “vulnerable in the fact that we have not received contact from them. With other students, we are providing whatever they need such as chrome books, paper copies, food or childcare support.” Hecht has received back more than 100 surveys from families/students at all three levels, showing that nearly all students have the necessary materials and are able to access the online classes and can submit their assignments. She said families have told her they are very impressed with the Google classrooms and, “are happy with the Google meet and they want more and we’re giving them more.” She said since March 13th they have held 176 in-district workshops to support the staff with the online learning.
It was noted that any student who has a chrome book that is not functioning can get it fixed or replaced by going the school website and click on Covid-19 and then click on the MCSD Chromebook Initiative for assistance.