Proposed budget and capital project, plus a call for legislation topics of Batavia school board meeting
Highlights from the Batavia City School District (BCSD) Board of Education meeting on Feb. 26 include news and updates about the following:
- Preliminary Budget Update
- Legislative Updates & Promoting Local Involvement
- Capital Improvement Proposal Approved
Preliminary Budget Update
Superintendent of Schools Christopher Dailey and Business Administrator Scott Rozanski have met with the Budget Ambassadors and are reviewing the ambassadors’ budget surveys. Those suggestions and comments will be brought into consideration as work on the Proposed Budget for the 2013-2014 school year continues.
Before the process began, the board of education had directed Dailey and Rozanski to contain any budget increases to no more than a 2 percent. Preliminary figures presented by Dailey indicate that a “rollover” budget -- one that maintains but does not add any new expenditures - would result in a 4.26-percent increase to the budget and a consequent 6.11-percent increase in the tax levy.
Furthermore, the superintendent noted that the calculation for our district’s Property Tax Cap Levy* equals a limit to a 5.51-percent increase (*As has been widely reported, the Property Tax Cap Levy, popularly called “the 2-percent tax cap,” is actually calculated by using the state’s eight-step formula, then adding items that the state has identified as exempt from the restriction. If a district’s proposed budget falls at or below this calculated limit, passage of its budget requires 50 percent voter approval. If a proposal exceeds the calculated limit, passage requires 60 percent voter approval. )
In order to get to a flat 2 percent tax levy increase, nearly $750,000 needs to be reduced from the preliminary budget, or, to close the gap between the 2 percent goal and the allowable threshold, nearly $638,000 needs to be cut.
Dailey and Rozanski will continue to process the ambassadors’ comments as well as all the updated figures for such things as retirements and state aid and will report to the board as progress is made toward the final budget proposal.
Legislative Updates & Promoting Local Involvement
Superintendent Dailey reported that the Genesee Valley School Boards Association Advocacy Forum and Legislative Breakfast was well attended by regional school officials and students, including several from our district.
Discussion with the legislators who were present centered on: reducing the state mandates that financially cripple districts; eliminating the GEA (Gap Elimination Adjustment which was instituted to help close the State budget deficit by taking back some of the education aid that had been promised to districts); educating voters about the aid formula that continues to provide funding for high-wealth/low-need districts, despite the increasingly high needs of low-wealth districts in meeting basic education requirements; and encouraging residents to contact their representatives including the governor to let their elected officials know the critical impact of their decisions and aid distribution.
Dailey commended BHS student and Student Ex-officio Board Member Kaitlin Logsdon for speaking to the legislators about how the loss of state aid has impacted the lives of students in our district.
Dailey, in the midst of discussion about the legislative impact on education, highlighted a few opportunities for board and community members to get more involved:
- Have staff, administrators and board members, as representatives of the school district, continue to take advantage of opportunities to meet with our elected officials. The Legislative Breakfast was one such opportunity. While in Albany this coming Tuesday, Dailey is scheduled to meet with Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Senator Michael Ranzenhoffer at which time he will discuss the impact of the GEA on our community and students. He would gladly take any notes or postcards from residents, students and staff and hand deliver them.
- Attend the Statewide School Finance Consortium’s education rally featuring Rick Timbs, Ph.D, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium and a leading voice in the fight for fair and equitable education aid. This gathering will be similar to one held in the Albany area in January titled, "Your Public Schools in Fiscal Peril: Running Out of Time and Options," which served as both an educational session and advocacy rally. Our regional rally will be held at Geneseo Central School District on March 12 at 6:30 p.m. (Note: The board voted to attend the rally in place of a board of education special meeting that was originally scheduled for that evening. They will be encouraging parents, students and other community members to help them provide strong representation from our district.)
- Write, and encourage other community members to mail letters and postcards, to legislators urging them to restore aid and to distribute aid equitably so that students in our district receive the same educational opportunities as other students in the state. Actual mail is more effective than e-mails.
- For more background on the Statewide School Finance Consortium and the financial crisis facing schools, visit the SSFC Web site: http://www.statewideonline.org/
Capital Improvement Proposal Accepted
The board voted to accept the proposed $3,841,000 capital improvement project and will bring it to the voters in May.
An overview of the proposal was presented at the previous (Feb.12) board of education meeting by Jerry Young of Young and Wright Architectural. The proposal will be presented to interested community groups upon request. Please contact the Superintendent’s Office (343-2480, ext. 1000) if interested in scheduling a presentation.
Main components of that presentation (as posted with the BOE Highlights from Feb.12) included the following:
The major components of the $3,841,000 proposed project include work at Richmond Memorial Library ($1,590,000), VanDetta Stadium/Batavia High ($548,000), Batavia High School ($406,000), Jackson Primary ($621,000), John Kennedy Intermediate ($557,000), Batavia Middle School ($80,000), and Robert Morris ($39,000). Most of the items outlined and pictured by Young in his presentation addressed building deterioration or legal compliance issues.
Work at Richmond Memorial Library ($1,590,000) would include slate roof shingle replacement, flat roof replacement, masonry restoration on the original building, window and door replacements on the original building and addition, site work (including sidewalks, roadway, and parking), and interior improvements such as carpet and emergency lights.
Work at VanDetta Stadium/Batavia High ($548,000) addresses both gender-based discrimination targeted by Title IX of the federal Educational Amendments Act of 1972 as well as discrimination based on disabilities as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The scope of work includes improvements to the girls’ softball field (dugouts, scoreboard and fence) as well as improving or creating handicapped access to the bathrooms, the concession stand, the ramps to stadium seating, and handicapped seating.
Work at Batavia High School ($ 406,000) includes site work for additional parking and a sidewalk to Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, HVAC upgrades, energy-efficient lighting and a motorized curtain in the gym, new hot water heaters and gas meters, and some security improvements.
Work at Jackson Primary ($621,000) includes site improvements for the playground and parent drop-off, masonry restoration on the chimney and corners of the building, window replacement on the second floor, bathroom installation in the kindergarten wing, and some security improvements.
Work at John Kennedy Intermediate ($557,000) includes window replacement on the original building, masonry restoration, energy-efficient lighting improvements in the gym, and some security improvements.
Work at Batavia Middle School ($80,000) includes a new hot water heater, air conditioning in the cafeteria, masonry restoration on the chimney, and energy-efficient lighting improvements in the gym.
Work at Robert Morris Elementary ($39,000) includes the replacement of a sanitary line in a crawlspace.
Plans for financing the project include the use of the Capital Reserve Fund for non-aided projects such as Richmond Memorial Library and VanDetta Stadium. For the remainder of the project, the Selected Building Aid ratio for 2012-2013 is 0.799 (or 0.201 local cost) for school buildings. In addition, other financing options such as Public Library Construction Grants and State Historic Preservation Funding will be pursued for the library projects. Grant applications, however, may only be made after the public approves a project.