This year has been an uncommon one, with many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools and most public buildings closed and large gatherings not allowed, the state has determined that this budget vote as well as the school board election will be done via absentee ballots.
Ballots must be received at the district office by 5 p.m. on June 9. If a qualified voter did not receive a ballot in the mail by May 22, they should contact their district’s clerk.
Pine Bush Central School District residents will vote on a $121,587,157 million budget on June 9, an increase of 2.37 percent from the current budget. The tax levy for the budget, the amount raised by taxes, would increase by 2.58 percent, staying under New York State’s tax levy limit by one full percentage point. That tax levy amount is $61,604219, an increase of $1,549,269. This proposed budget includes $58,009,438 in state aid, an increase of $1,782,080or 3.17 percent from the current school year. This budget does not use any unappropriated fund balance.
“With the amount of uncertainty surrounding the state and federal government in terms of aid, we feel this budget puts us in the best position to maintain programs and continue to provide a quality education to our students, while being mindful of the needs of our community,” said Superintendent of Schools Tim Mains.
The Board of Education adopted the 2020-2021 budget at its meeting on May 12. The budget maintains the strong educational standards of Pine Bush and maintains current class sizes. If accepted, the expansion of foreign languages in the middle schools would be deferred. This budget reduces out of district special education costs by expanding in-district offerings. In addition, the accepted budget would begin formal funding of the district’s strategic plan.
In this budget, a new Actively Building Language Environment (ABLE) class will be created at Circleville Middle School that will bring up to six students back to their home district instead of being educated at BOCES. This will provide a significant savings to the district and a better instructional program for the students.
ABLE is a program supporting students with minimal or no verbal abilities who are generally of average ability but are unable to achieve their potential due to their communication deficits. Students may also have sensory deficits, behavioral needs daily living skills deficits and could be on the autism spectrum.
The Valley Central School District 2020-2021 proposed budget is $108,429,011 and holds the budget to budget increase to 1.5 percent. This is the lowest budget increase since the 2013-2014 school year. The proposed tax levy is $63,403,532, which is up 2.86 percent from the current school year.
The proposed budget incorporates culturally inclusive teaching in order to meet the needs of all students. It also supports a hands on Science 21 curriculum for elementary school students and a science, technology, engineering and mathematics lab for students in grades K-5. The budget includes a Middle School Technology Program.
If accepted, this budget would allow for the continuation of added electives at the high school; for example Race, Equity and Justice, Wood Production, Integrated Manufacturing Design, as well as the numerous electives already in existence, such as Shakespeare and Robotics. The proposed budget maintains music, art and sports programs as well as all clubs and extracurricular activities.
Qualified voters in the Valley Central School District who feel their mailed vote may not meet the June 9 deadline can use a drop box at any of their school buildings including the Alternative Learning Center.
The Wallkill Central School District’s proposed 2020-2021 budget is also improved from this year. Their proposed budget is $77,697,248, a 1.53 percent increase from the current school year. The tax levy is $44,021,248, which is an increase of 2.49 percent.
The proposed budget maintains low class sizes for grades K-12 to allow for enhanced learning opportunities, maintains support services to address the social-emotional needs of students and continues the assignment of police officers in all five school buildings.
However, to keep the tax levy within the tax cap while facing a reduction in State Aid, the district was forced to make some cuts. The K-8 Summer Learning Academy will not be offered this summer and the Senior High School Night School Programs will not be offered in the 2020-2021 school year. Four full-time positions and one part-time position were eliminated through attrition.
“In preparing the 2020-2021 budget, the Board of Education and Administration made it a priority to maintain small class sizes, academic programs, extracurricular activities and social/emotional supports, including police officers stationed at each school building,” said Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle. “The challenge we faced in the development of this budget was the uncertainty of State Aid. Due to the fiscal foresight of the Board of Education and the establishment of reserves and fund balance, we were able to accomplish these goals with few exceptions.”
There is a second proposition on the budget vote ballot for the purchase of a building to replace the current Administrative Office Building, which requires costly renovations. The cost to renovate the current building is approximately $3,300,000, compared to $575,000 to purchase the new building located at 1500 NYS Route 208 in Wallkill.
In addition, the district would purchase the building with their own money, rather than having to borrow, resulting in additional savings to taxpayers. Current lease payments of a parking lot, storage and space for administrative offices will be eliminated from the budget with the purchase of the building, resulting in additional annual savings of $27,000.