The New Paltz Central School District will ask voters on May 17 to approve a $57 million budget for the 2016-17 school year. There will also be a separate $480,000 bus proposition on the ballot that would allow the district to purchase four buses and one car (the latter to be used as a school bus for students on routes with only a few students). In addition, two candidates for the Board of Education will be on the ballot: Sophia Skiles and Matthew Williams. The trustee positions carry three-year terms to begin July 1. Current trustees Dominick Profaci and Julie Tresco have elected not to run again for their seats on the board.
The Highland Central School District will ask taxpayers to approve a $41,656,096 million budget for the 2016-17 school year. In addition, two trustee seats on the Board of Education are up for a vote, with incumbents Sue Gilmore and Thomas Miller running to retain their positions on the board. The terms are for three years each.
The $57 million school budget in New Paltz reflects a 3.4 percent increase over the 2015-16 budget but with a zero percent tax levy increase. Taxpayers will be asked to approve the same amount of financial support for next year as in the current year’s budget: $39,635,000. The bus proposition, however, should it pass, will increase the tax levy by 1.2 percent.
The budget will require a 60 percent voter approval because there is a negative tax levy limit of -1.07 percent this year because the consumer price index (CPI) is so low. According to Richard Linden, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, the CPI combined with the rest of the formula for determining the tax levy limit resulted in New Paltz being one of approximately 80 districts statewide that have a negative tax levy limit this year, which brings with it a requirement for a super-majority vote to pass. The bus proposition will require a simple 51 percent majority to pass.
The proposed budget adds a full-time ENL (English as a New Language) teacher, required because of unfunded mandates from the state and an increased need in the district. An adaptive physical education teacher at the .3 level will also be hired at the high school and there is a need to budget for six full-time teacher aides, as well.
Although the budget reflects a zero percent tax levy increase, the district still needs residents to come out for the vote. If the budget does not pass with the supermajority 60 percent voter approval, it will default to a zero percent tax levy anyway. But the difference between a default budget with a zero percent tax levy increase and a voter-approved budget with a zero percent tax levy increase is that with a default budget, the district cannot purchase needed equipment and materials for the schools.
The bus proposition for $480,000 is the same amount as that in last year’s bus proposition. The district maintains approximately 66 buses in its fleet, with an approximate eleven-year cycle of the buses remaining viable until they have to be replaced at the rate of approximately six per year, depending on the size of the buses and condition they’re in.
The revenue side of the budget includes $15.25 million in funding from the state, which includes a restoration of Gap Elimination Adjustment funds that were withheld in previous years. As with the current budget in place, the proposed 2016-17 budget moves $1 million over from the fund balance to pay for school programs, leaving the remaining fund at a seriously low $187,000. The Board of Education trustees have stated on the record that their top priority moving forward is to build those funds back up in order to have sufficient emergency funding for unforeseen events.
The polls will be open at the high school for the vote on Tuesday, May 17 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. More information is available at www.newpaltz.k12.ny.us.
The Highland budget will require a supermajority 60 percent voter approval to pass, because adoption of this budget requires a tax levy increase of 1.987 percent, which exceeds the statutory tax levy increase limit of .590 percent. A separate bus proposition of $891,500 is also on the ballot.
As of press time, the Board of Education had yet to finalize all the specifics. More information will be reported in next week’s New Paltz Times as it becomes available.
Polls will be open on May 17 in the Highland High School band room at 320 Pancake Hollow Road from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Voters must be 18 years of age or older, a citizen of the U.S., a resident in the Highland district for at least 30 days prior to the vote and registered to vote.