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April 11, 2016 Board of Education Special Budget Meeting Minutes

 

 

April 11, 2016

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

A special budget meeting of the Board of Education of the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District was called to order at 7:30 P.M. by President W. Remington in the Conference Room on the above date.

 

 

ROLL CALL

 

Present: J. McGill, B. Remington, W. Remington, H. Simmons, D. Taylor, R. White, W. Witherell, T. Zellweger, and Mr. Saiff.

 

Absent: J. Young.

 

Others: V. Doll, S. Hartson, B. Reid, M. Robinson, and individuals listed on the sign-in sheet, as attached.

 

 

QUORUM

Quorum of five established.

 

 

2016-2017 BUDGET WORK

Mr. Saiff welcomed all employees and community members to the Board Meeting. He said he was very encouraged by the number of people in attendance. Mr. Saiff explained that he had prepared a PowerPoint presentation for all who came to the meeting. He stated this was a different process for himself and Board Members, as a proposed budget is usually in place before a presentation is given to the public. He noted that this year, people had expressed a desire to be involved in the budget process earlier than in the past.

 

The Superintendent summarized what had been discussed at the previous budget meeting, and added that there was a significant hole to fill with regard to the current proposed budget when compared to what the District has for revenue. Mr. Saiff stated that after the presentation, there would be time for public comment. Following public comment, Mr. Saiff would like time to work with the Board to develop a budget that is balanced and tolerable to the community in difficult financial times.

 

Mr. Saiff began the presentation and stated that for the most part, the District has been able to maintain a strong, cohesive academic program. He added that the students work hard and that the community supports the school. Mr. Saiff also highlighted student achievement throughout the past few years, particularly that all six of the District’s Varsity Athletic teams were NYSPHSSA Scholar Athlete Teams in the 2014-2015 school year, and that the District’s students scored First and Second in the County on the Grades 3-8 Mathematics and English Language Arts New York State Assessments, respectively.

 

Continuing with the presentation, Mr. Saiff noted the history of the Gap Elimination Adjustment and its effects on the District. Mr. Saiff said that in 2010, New York State had a substantial state budget gap and the governor imposed on all New York school districts the GEA. With this adjustment, some of the state aid that had been given to districts was taken back to balance the state budget. Mr. Saiff stated the cumulative effect of losing even a portion of state aid each year for five years significantly affected the small, rural district and amounted to over two million dollars in lost funding for Parishville-Hopkinton Central School.

 

Mr. Saiff then went on to discuss the Consumer Price Index and the 2% Tax Cap legislation. Mr. Saiff noted that the CPI for next year is 0.12%. If the District were to propose a budget that stayed within the tax cap legislation for the 2016-2017 school year, it would gain only an additional $4,200 in funding. Mr. Saiff reviewed the 2015-2016 school budget and stated that Parishville-Hopkinton was one of two out of 670 school districts that were held to a contingent budget this year because of a failed budget vote. This contingent budget meant no tax levy increase as compared to the 2014-2015 school year. Mr. Saiff said in a contingent budget, no new equipment purchases were allowed. He then listed items that cause increases in a school budget, notably the need to provide mandated services to students with special needs. Mr. Saiff explained that the District has seen a huge influx of high-needs students that require expensive programs. He discussed increasing revenues and decreasing expenses as ways to balance a budget with a deficit. Mr. Saiff stated he worked with the School Business Manager, Michael Robinson, in applying appropriations from the fund balance and reducing expenditures.

 

Mr. Saiff informed those in attendance that he was presenting four different budgets this evening. He noted that there had been a few positive changes affecting the District’s revenue and expenditures for 2016-2017 since the last meeting on April 4th.

 

Mr. Saiff discussed how the proposed school budgets were developed. With a budget gap, Mr. Saiff explained, he makes a list of proposed cuts and asks M. Robinson to cost out those reductions. Mr. Saiff reviewed the positions and programs that in this budget process could be cut according to each of the four different tax levy percentages. Mr. Saiff also reviewed steps which had been taken since the last budget meeting to save the District money or provide additional revenue. The Board noted that to save positions and programs, it would be necessary to propose a budget that exceeds the tax cap, requiring a 60% supermajority at the budget vote. Mr. Saiff stated that if the District were to try to close the budget gap with just the local tax levy would require a nearly 10% increase in taxes – something Mr. Saiff said he felt was too much to ask from the community.

 

Mr. Saiff explained the budget was still in the formative stage. He also noted what each percent increase in tax levy could mean for programs and positions. Mr. Saiff reviewed the District’s voting history, and noted that average tax levy increases have fallen between 2.9% and 4.9%. Mr. Saiff also added that last year was the first time the budget vote did not pass. The Board discussed the proposed budget option that would put the District on a better trajectory. Mr. Saiff and W. Remington thanked the public for attending, and W. Remington opened the meeting for questions and comments from the public.

 

 

QUESTIONS FROM PUBLIC & PRESS

K. Tremper said the reason she felt the budget failed last year was that there was a significant increase in taxes for waterfront property owners due to major assessment changes. J. McGill, Code Enforcer/Assessor, assured her that there would not be such drastic changes this year.

 

A community member asked if the District participated in applying for grants, as Mrs. Pamela Claus had done when she was Elementary Principal. Mr. Saiff responded that current Elementary Principal, B. Reid, writes and applies for the same special education grants that P. Claus had in the past.

 

C. Sanja said she heard from her school-aged daughter that some teachers would not be replaced once they retired at the end of the year. Mr. Saiff said that was a consideration at one time. It was stated that more public relations could help remind voters of the date and time of the budget vote. Mr. Saiff replied that the Budget Newsletter and Postcard may no longer be enough to inform voters of the budget vote, and that he would utilize the District’s Facebook page in conjunction with the traditional modes of communication. It was also suggested to contact local television stations to display the date and time of the budget vote in their news tickers. C. Sanja also asked about cancelling the 2:30 P.M. bus run, and just having the 3:10 P.M. bus run. Mr. Saiff responded that removing a run at the end of the day would prove quite difficult, and that doing so does not yield a substantial net savings to the District, as transportation is highly aided.

 

J. Zenger inquired if the Board had looked at other areas to save money. Mr. Zenger suggested cost saving measures that do not directly involve education and extra-curricular activities, such as contracting through a different insurance agency and utilizing solar power. Mr. Saiff said to J. Zenger that he and the Board are currently looking into energy efficiencies, including LED lighting replacements, solar arrays, and the heating system. Mr. Zenger said grants are available for such conversions.

 

R. Aikens voiced that most of his property does not qualify for the STAR Tax Exemption. While he could support a 3.9% tax levy, Mr. Aikens stated he is not sure he could vote for 4.9%.

 

W. Remington thanked everybody present for attending, and thanked them for their attention. He asked that they allow the Board to convene and work toward solving the budget situation. Mr. Remington added that if at any time following the meeting anyone had any questions to please come to him, other Board Members, or Mr. Saiff.

 

 

 

Mr. Saiff directed Board Members to a manila folder containing details for four separate proposed budgets – one with a 2.9% tax levy and the purchase of a school bus, the second with just a 2.9% tax levy, the third with a 3.9% tax levy, and the fourth with a 4.9% tax levy. Mr. Saiff noted that all budgets, with the exception of the proposal with a school bus purchase, would require a supermajority. He stated that the other three budgets would address the shortfall either through increased revenue or reductions in expenditures. Mr. Saiff recommended to the Board presenting a budget with a tax levy increase of 4.9%.

 

D. Pcolar suggested providing an Exit Poll for voters at the Budget Vote, which could help in budget development moving forward.

 

C. Ayers said she felt it was very important for younger students to get academic assistance at an early age so that they may not require AIS when they get to High School.

 

 

No. 2016-168

2016-2017 SCHOOL BUDGET

 

 

Motion made by R. White and seconded by J. McGill to adopt the following Budget Resolution, reflecting a 4.9% average tax levy increase:

 

BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Education of the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District, Towns of Parishville, Hopkinton, Stockholm, and Potsdam, County of St. Lawrence, be and is hereby authorized to expend $11,017,014 and to levy the necessary tax therefore, pending voter approval for the 2016-2017 school year. 8 in favor, 0 opposed, Carried.

 

 

INFORMATION

The Board received a copy of Mr. Saiff’s PowerPoint Presentation, four different proposed school budgets, and a list of upcoming events of interest.

 

 

No. 2016-169

ADJOURNMENT

Motion made by T. Zellweger and seconded by H. Simmons to adjourn at 9:03 P.M. 8 in favor, 0 opposed, Carried.

 

 

 

 

 

 

___________________________

School District Clerk

 

 

12 County Route 47
Parishville, NY 13672
Phone: 315-265-4642
Fax: 315-268-1309

Mission Statement:
The PHCS community strives to instill in all students the knowledge and skills necessary to become caring, conscientious, and creative citizens.

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