On Tuesday, May 16, residents of Cooperstown Central School District approved a $19,061,937 budget for the 2017-18 school year by a vote of 577 to 111.
They also approved a bus lease proposition and selected two board of education members. Timothy Hayes and Gillian Spencer were elected to three-year terms that will start July 1.
The top two vote-getters of five candidates were elected to the two seats. Incumbent Hayes received 283 votes and Spencer received 280 votes and will be seated on the board in July. Kim Jastremski received 272 votes; Jeff Woeppel received 246 votes; and Bruce Markusen received 188 votes. The bus proposition, which involves leasing school buses, passed by a vote of 584 to 85.
A separate and independent library proposition passed by a vote of 526 to 146.
The budget has a 2.8 percent increase in the tax levy, with a rise in spending of 3.4 percent, or $623,561, over the current year’s fiscal plan. Because the tax levy increase of $315,119 is below the district’s calculated tax levy limit of 3.7 percent, the budget required a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of voters to pass.
All academic and extracurricular programming will be maintained under the spending plan, even though the district is seeing a 0.3 percent decrease in state aid from the current year. In addition to proposing a tax levy that is below the district’s levy limit, an interfund transfer and the use of reserves will allow for a focus next year on the critical areas of local curriculum and professional development. At the same time, budget establishes efficiencies in administration and operations.
“Tax dollars help provide innovative programs to serve students in a rapidly changing world. We will work to ensure that our programs reflect 21st-century practices derived through authentic learning experiences and both project-based and problem-based learning,” said Dr. William Crankshaw, superintendent of schools.
Decreases are seen in the administration section of the budget as the district reorganizes its staff structure in the area of curriculum and professional development. The bulk of the increase in the proposed budget is seen in the areas of contractual salaries and employee benefits. In addition to maintaining all current academic and extracurricular programs, the fiscal plan will help:
- Support aspirational goals for relevant and useful learning; constant innovation; continuous improvement; early intervention; and an integrated K-12 STEAM program.
- Ensure an adequate ratio of teachers to students and focus on improving high-quality, professional staff.
- Improve dynamic and relevant courses, curriculum and educational opportunities for students.
- Allow for critical, concerted efforts to encourage development of social-emotional wellness, confidence and character.
- Improve efficiencies in administration to ensure the right efforts are sustained by the right personnel and support.
- Continue a plan for sustained maintenance and improvement to district facilities and the campus.
The district plans to accomplish these goals through the following changes and initiatives in the 2017-18 school year:
Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment/Athletic Director. The district is reorganizing the structure of its curriculum and staff development staffing by eliminating the K-12 Director of Comprehensive Student Services, Programs and Athletics administrative position and defining the duties from that position between a Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment and a part-time Athletic Director. An increased focus on relevant curriculum, professional development and meaningful assessment will be coupled with this change.
Full-time Elementary School Secretary. Because the district currently does not employ an elementary secretary through the summer and vacations, necessary office tasks are attended to by the elementary principal. Schools half the size of Cooperstown Elementary School retain a full time principal and 12-month secretary. This change will assure administrative efficiency, student safety and building security.
STEAM Program and Curriculum Development. The district is currently engaged in visitations to STEAM model schools to help develop a model of learning rooted in curriculum and environment that will prepare students for sought-after careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, but with a firm coverage of professional skills/soft skills-the ‘A’ in STEAM.
Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum Initiative. The district is investing in teachers and staff through its three–year professional development plan, which begins this summer. The curriculum, K-12 in every subject, will be audited and strengthened to assure relevancy, rigor and effectiveness.
Local Formative Interim Assessment/Data-Informed Instruction Initiative. The district will build teacher-created local, formative interim assessments that will produce critical data to inform our instruction and improve quality of learning.
Full-time School Social Worker. Moving the school social worker from part time to full time will allow for greater social emotional learning support. Because of retirements, there is no additional cost to the budget.
According to the Washington Post’s 2016 ranking of America’s Most Challenging High Schools, CCS ranks among the top 10 percent of public high schools in the nation. Nearly half of the 2016 graduating class had taken at least one Advanced Placement class. Moody’s Investment Service also indicated in a 2016 report that the district has a “strong credit position” and is in a “solid financial position.”