On Tuesday, May 17, 2016 residents of Cooperstown Central School District approved a $18,438,376 budget for the 2016-17 school year and a bus lease proposition. They also voted to fill two seats on the board of education.
The budget has a 0.43 percent increase in the tax levy, with a rise in spending of 3.17 percent, or $566,850, over the current year’s fiscal plan. Because the tax levy is at the district’s calculated tax levy limit, the budget required approval by a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of voters to pass. The final budget vote was 388 to 102.
Due to an 8.3 percent increase in state aid, which accounts for the end of the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment (see page 2),the tax levy increase of less than half a percent is the lowest presented by the district in recent years. The bulk of the spending increase in the budget is due to contractual increases in employee wage and benefit costs.
“The 2016-17 spending plan allows us to maintain all current programs and continues the vision set by the administration and the board of education earlier this school year,” Interim Superintendent Michael K. Virgil said. “The district has received accolades in the 2015-16 school year for both its financial operations and its academics.”
In a 2015 Business First study of public schools, Cooperstown ranked as the top academically performing school district in Otsego County and third among the 36 districts in the Herkimer, Oneida and Otsego County region.
Moody’s Investment Service also indicated in a March 2016 report that the district has a “strong credit position” and is in a “solid financial position.”
There are no cuts to program or staffing under the fiscal plan. The district will continue to implement an administrative restructuring approved by the board of education earlier this year. Those changes will lead to the hiring of a new secondary school principal, as the current principal moves to the new position of K-12 director of comprehensive student services, programs and athletics.The district’s current director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment will return to a teaching position in the elementary school, with that administrative position being eliminated.
“The administrative changes are intended to improve the district’s responsiveness to students’ needs. The district is able to make these administrative changes, while being mindful of the impact on the budget,” Mr. Virgil said.
The district is also using the increased state aid to reduce the use of fund balance in the 2016-17 budget by 18.8 percent –or $150,000 – from the current year’s budget.
“Recognizing that this is good financial practice, the district is reducing reliance on fund balance appropriations as revenue sources,” Mr. Virgil said.
Two candidates ran unopposed, with Mary Leanard getting re-elected, and Marielle Ainsworth getting elected for the first time to fill Andrew Marietta’s seat. A separate community library funding proposition, which is not part of the school’s budget or operations, was also approved this year, in accordance with state law.