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Budget vote slated for May 15

| May 10, 2018

On Tuesday, May 15, residents of Cooperstown Central School District will vote on a proposed $19.7 million budget for the 2018-19 school year and a bus purchase proposition. They will also vote to fill three seats on the board of education.

The proposed budget has a 2.0 percent increase in the tax levy, with an increase in spending of 3.4 percent, or $639,001, over the current year’s budget. Because the proposed tax levy increase of $237,839 meets the tax levy limit, the budget requires approval by a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of voters to pass.

A public budget hearing was held Wednesday, May 2 in the Jr./Sr. High School Library. The May 15 vote will be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Room 305 at the Jr./Sr. High School.

A projected state aid increase of 3.8 percent for next year – following a decrease in state aid in the current fiscal year – will allow for all academic and extracurricular programming to be maintained and improved under the spending plan.

“The budget development process was not without its challenges, and administration, guided by the board of education, evaluated every area for efficiency, relevance and potential for decreases in spending,” said Dr. William Crankshaw, superintendent of schools.

Contractual retirement and health insurance costs account for about 70 percent of the overall increase in the budget. In addition, the fiscal plan also includes additions to the district’s special education program. Increased needs in the area of special education, which in part prompted the creation of a new class and the hiring of new staff members early in the current school year, are expected to require an increased prudence in spending. Decreases in the budget are due to adjustments in the way BOCES student programs are accounted for and the actual cost of these programs.
The budget includes a $64,514 increase in the use of fund balance and a $140,967 increase in the use of reserves to balance revenues with expenditures from 2017-18.

“The 2018-19 proposed budget allows the district to enhance the integration of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) throughout the K-12 educational program, while at the same time improving the way we deliver special education programming. Now, more than ever, innovative programs must serve students in a rapidly changing world – we are making strides toward having all of our programs relevant to 21st century practices by providing authentic learning experiences and both project-based and problem-based learning,” Dr. Crankshaw said.

In addition to maintaining and strengthening the impact of all current academic and extracurricular programs, the fiscal plan would allow the district to:

  • Fund a certified technology teacher to work with students in grades 5 through 12. As part of the district’s long-range plan, this teacher will strengthen learning opportunities for students in engineering, programming, coding and innovation. The new teacher will work closely with the current technology teacher and other instructional staff in a collaborative approach designed to ensure STEAM principles are integrated throughout the educational experience at CCS.
  • Firmly establish a director of extracurricular advisement and athletics position. The district’s emphasis on strong extracurricular clubs and activities, and scholar-athlete programs, present the continued need for a director who can monitor more than 25 clubs, activities and organizations and 13 sports, with additional duties.
  • Fund a furniture and equipment replacement plan. Much of the furniture at CCS hasn’t been updated in decades. Rows and connected seating are no longer the optimal way for students to learn, and much of the furniture and equipment currently in place is showing its age.
  • Account for an 8:1:1 self-contained behavioral elementary classroom. This is a successful classroom model designed for students of primary elementary school age, and is comprised of a special education-certified teacher and a classroom aide. A behavioral therapist and related services, including speech/language, occupational therapy, physical therapy and counselors, would be closely linked with the program to help ensure student success. The cost of this program is less than the current cost of outside placements for the same special education-classified students who require a behavior-based 8:1:1 classroom.
  • Establish a $100,000 Capital Outlay Fund that will help ensure the school facilities and grounds are safe. Districts may receive reimbursement from the state for base-year capital outlay expenses for certain projects. The district is planning to repair drainage basins at the Jr./Sr. High School and construct security improvements to the Jr./Sr. High School entrance. Although this $100,000 outlay is built into the 2018-19 budget, it is eligible for a 71.8 percent state aid reimbursement.

In addition, district residents will vote to fill three seats on the board of education when voters head to the polls May 15.

Incumbent Board President Marcy Birch and board member Anthony Scalici are seeking re-election. Board member Mary Bonderoff is opting not to run again.

Matt Schuermann and Nancy Areliusson are also candidates for the three seats, which will be filled by the three candidates who receive the most votes.

The new three-year terms will run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. The three seats are among seven total seats on the board of education. The positions are unpaid. The Board of Education meets monthly for regular meetings and committee meetings.

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