Community members share thoughts about budget, project at forum
Local residents including parents, current high
school students, staff and alumni shared their ideas and feedback with
the Schoharie Board of Education at the 2017 Community Budget Forum the
evening of Feb. 27.
Superintendent David Blanchard and Assistant Superintendent for
Business Bob Bonaker spoke with participants about both the
development of a budget for the 2017-18 school year and the proposed
capital renovation project.
Blanchard noted that the Board of Education approved
on Feb. 16 to move forward with the proposed capital project, which
residents will vote on May 16, the same date they vote on the school
budget. He provided background on the project after the evening's group
READ MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
Bonaker presented an overview of the district's
preliminary budget, which is what would be needed to deliver existing
education programs and services at next year's estimated costs and
projected state aid.
The preliminary budget would include a 2.99% increase above the current school
year's budget, mostly to cover the increased cost of salaries and health
coverage. With a projected state aid increase of 0.29% (less than 1%) and a tax levy
limit of 0.4% (less than 1%), the preliminary budget contains a gap of $344,385.
reductions and additional allocation of available fund balance in that
amount would be necessary to balance the budget if additional state aid
is not provided by the Legislature and Governor.
DOWNLOAD PRELIMINARY BUDGET PRESENTATION
After Blanchard and Bonaker's presentations, forum
participants broke into two discussion groups for a facilitated
discussion of the following:
Discussion question 1:
Expectations for today’s students are rising, as are
costs related to providing the education they need to prepare for
college and career. At the same time, school districts and their
residents are challenged in meeting those costs by inadequate state aid
and limits on the amount of funds that can be raised through local
A. Setting funding issues aside, what do you, as a
member of the Schoharie Central School District community, value most
about the programs and opportunities in our district?
B. With an overall projected state aid increase of
just 0.29% and a state-mandated tax levy limit of less than 1 percent
(about 0.4%), Schoharie Central School District’s Preliminary Budget
contains a revenue gap of -$344,385. Budget reductions and additional
allocation of available fund balance in that amount would be necessary
to balance the budget if additional state aid is not provided by the
Legislature and Governor.
• Would you be willing to support a school budget
that eliminates or reduces programs, services and/or staff in order to
keep the 2017-18 budget within Schoharie’s tax levy limit? Why or why
• Which programs or services would you be willing to
live without in order to keep the budget below the district's tax levy
• Which programs or services would you most want to
• Recognizing that the Preliminary Budget has a
$344,385 budget gap, would you be willing to support a 2017-18 school
budget that exceeds the district’s tax levy limit of less than 1 percent
(0.4%) – and requires approval by at least 60 percent of voters – to
raise taxes to cover the gap if that meant the district could avoid some
or all reductions to programs, services and/or staff? Why or why not?
Discussion question 2:
Just as Schoharie Central is dedicated to preparing
its students for a successful future, it invests considerable time and
energy into caring for the buildings and classrooms in which they learn.
Daily wear and tear and the aging of the high school have taken their
toll beyond what can be remedied through routine maintenance and repair.
At the same time, technology and space requirements
for today's learners are vastly different from the past. On May 16,
district residents will vote on a proposed $19,875,000 capital project
to cover the cost of renovating the 90-year-old building.
The district’s goal is to complete the capital
project with minimal, if any, impact upon the future tax levy. More than
83 percent of the cost would be covered by state building aid. The local
share of the cost would be covered by a Capital Project Reserve Fund,
also subject to voter approval on May 16, to be drawn from the
district’s available fund balance.
Information about the proposed capital project has
been shared through a school-community facilities improvement committee,
on the district website, at Board of Education meetings, coverage by the
media and during a Jan. 25 community forum.
• Have you been following the district’s efforts to
keep the community informed about the proposed capital project? What
additional information would you need to make an informed decision on
• Would you be interested in attending a community
forum on the capital project if one were held in
Thank you to all who participated in the forum,
which provided district with valuable community feedback.
Anyone with comments or input on any of the above
discussion items, is encouraged to please share them with Schoharie
Central School District by contacting the office of the superintendent.