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April 4, 2016 Board of Education Special Budget Meeting Minutes

 

 

April 4, 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 – 7:32 P.M., J. Young, T. Zellweger, and Mr. Saiff.

 

Absent: None.

 

Others: C. Ayers, M. Bloom, C. Brand, D. Cannamela, K. Colbert, W. Converse, C. Cotey, A. Ellison, L. Gray, R. Hannon, C. Harper, E. Harper, Jr., S. Hartson, K. Hurley, S. Kingsley, L. Knowles, D. McCormick, D. Pcolar, K. Pullano, B. Reid, A. Rider-Mitchell, G. Richards, M. Robinson, J. Rosenbarker, I. Sinclair, K. Tremper, T. Snell, A. White, L. White, M. White, J. Williams, G. Wilson, P. VanLeuven, and A. Vitale.

 

 

QUORUM

Quorum of five established.

 

 

QUESTIONS FROM PUBLIC & PRESS

K. Pullano inquired if the District participates in the grant writing service that is available through BOCES, and if so, what grants the District has received in the last 5 years. Mr. Saiff replied that the District does not often qualify for grants, but that grant opportunities are pursued. Mr. Saiff added that the District either did not reach the poverty mark or student achievement was too high to receive particular grants.

 

W. Converse stated that he thought the defeat of the budget last year was a misrepresentation of how the community felt. He added that he, and others he knows, take a great deal of pride in the District. Mr. Converse said he was willing to spend to have something top notch. W. Converse also said perhaps the vote needed to be approached differently. He suggested more meetings and more talk in the community. W. Remington thanked W. Converse.

 

 

No. 2016-165

LEGAL NOTICE

Motion made by J. Young and seconded by T. Zellweger to approve the attached Legal Notice of Annual Meeting and Election and to publish said Notice on March 31, April 13, April 27, and May 11, 2016, as required. Mr. Saiff noted the Legal Notice was a procedural aspect of the budget, and that this notice lays out the logistics for the budget provisions. 9 in favor, 0 opposed, Carried.

 

 

No. 2016-166

BOCES FINAL

COMMITMENT FORM

Motion made by T. Zellweger and seconded by J. Young to approve the BOCES Final Commitment Form for the 2016-2017 school year in the amount of $2,406,457.20 plus “as used” CoSers, said amount to be reflected in the proposed school district budget developed for the 2016-2017 school year. Mr. Saiff added that the form has been reviewed in detail, seeking areas of excess that could possibly be decreased. He noted that again a great portion of the cost was attributed to students in out of building programs. 9 in favor, 0 opposed, Carried.

 

 

2016-2017 BUDGET WORK

Mr. Saiff directed Board members to a folder of five items. The first item in the packet was a copy of the PowerPoint presentation that he will share at this evening’s meeting. The second set of papers was suggestions made by faculty members after Mr. Saiff presented a budget summary to staff. The third and fourth items were two different budget options. The fifth item was a list of proposed reductions to staff and programs that go beyond the existing budget gap in preparation for the 2016-2017 school year budget. Mr. Saiff said that, if Board Members felt comfortable, they could approve a budget this evening but that they certainly had more time if needed.

 

Mr. Saiff discussed with the Board the use of appropriations nearing 1.2 million dollars, instead of $900,000 as would have been preferred. Mr. Saiff touched upon potential cuts to staffing and BOCES. Mr. Saiff directed Board Members to Budget Option 1. This proposed budget included the purchase of a school bus. With this budget, the proposed tax levy would be 3.17%, which would be within the cap given the exemption of a school bus purchase. The applied fund balance and reserves with this proposal would be 1.2 million dollars. Mr. Saiff explained that a 1% tax levy meant a little over $34,000 to the District. In order to close the budget gap through the local taxy levy, a significant increase would be required – an option Mr. Saiff felt would not be viable to the community.

 

The second budget option laid out a 2.9% taxy levy increase without the purchase of a school bus, leaving the District with a $298,000 budget gap.

 

Mr. Saiff explained the full value tax rate in increased taxes. He also noted the detrimental effects of the Gap Elimination Adjustment on the District over a period of five years. The GEA has cost the District just over two million dollars in state aid to close the state budget gap. Mr. Saiff listed the tax levy increases for each of those five years. The tax levy increase for the 2015-2016 school year was 0%, as the District was held to a contingency budget. Mr. Saiff noted the tax decreases seen by homeowners on average for a home assessed at $50,000 and $100,000. He also detailed the tax increases homeowners would see on average for homes assessed at these same value with a 3.17% levy increase. Mr. Saiff said that the full value tax rate has generally hovered between 12 and 14 dollars. He stated that with a 3.17% tax levy increase, it would be $14.25 with the Basic Star exemption applied.

 

R. White asked about the possibility of using paper or Styrofoam plates in the Cafeteria. He stated that he would not agree with that measure, as it would be wasteful and lower the standard of service in the cafeteria. Mr. Saiff replied that the cut listed in the Kitchen does not consider using disposable plates. W. Witherell analyzed the tax increases on homes assessed at $50,000 and noted that the increase in taxes would be more like $9.00 over a two-year period, since no additional taxes were collected in 2015-2016. R. White requested an explanation of the High School Social Studies teachers cost to the District of $90,000. Mr. Saiff explained this was a veteran teacher of thirty years, and included proposed salary increases and a benefits package. R. White noted he would prefer the proposed budget that would be the least disruptive to the District.

 

B. Remington asked how long the District’s savings could be sustained if it were necessary to apply the reserves at the rate proposed. Mr. Saiff replied six or seven years if the need for use increases at the rate it has been. If we were to use the amount of reserves necessary to close the budget gap each year, the savings would likely only be available for three more years.

 

W. Remington asked Board members which budget proposal they preferred. It was noted that if the school bus purchase was pulled from Option 1, the tax levy increase would be 0.12%, which does not require a supermajority to pass at the budget vote. T. Zellweger stated he would rather see some of the cuts come from extra-curricular activities rather than staff. B. Remington agreed that education is the District’s priority, and that she would prefer to maintain teachers over extra programs and athletics. W. Remington noted the District’s academic performance is consistently near the top, and he would be discouraged to chip away at the educational program any more than is needed.

 

L. White said that although it was a difficult decision, it would be beneficial to maintain extra-curricular activities, as they are important for college-bound students. T. Snell noted participation in extra-curricular activities were also considered when students applied for scholarships, and that merit aid was highly competitive. W. Converse said the District has high standards, and that a number of students that participated in athletics work at or above their ability so that they can keep playing sports. He felt that cutting the “extras” would negatively affect students’ grades.

 

Questions were asked regarding Administration. Inquiries were made as to how comparable Districts operated with two administrators. Mr. Saiff responded that the principals also serve in other capacities, such as Athletic Director and CPSE/CSE Program Coordinator.

 

K. Tremper asked if teaching schedules could be restructured so that periods could be covered without having to hire substitutes. E. Harper, Jr. asked for figures regarding the percentage of students that participate in extra-curricular activities. Mr. Saiff estimated that number was 60% or more. E. Harper, Jr. added that students that participate in “extras” maintain higher grade point averages than students that do not. Another community member noted that attendance at the school musicals was standing room only.

 

M. White asked what percentage the tax levy would have to be with the proposed budget to maintain all positions and programs. Mr. Saiff said the total would be 11.6%. M. White asked what the tax increase on a home assessed at $50,000 would be. Mr. Saiff replied that he would look into that.

 

W. Remington said there was no clear-cut direction. However, he said that Mr. Saiff and M. Robinson would need some consensus on which they could take action. The Board requested the development of more budget options, with cuts denoted for 2.9%, 3.9%, and 4.9% tax levy increases. Mr. Saiff noted that the higher the tax levy increase, the closer the District would be to a balanced budget. He added that it would be a heavy lift for families with small or fixed incomes. Board Members were surveyed regarding their choice for opting to develop a budget requiring a supermajority – 60% of the public in favor of the budget would be needed for passage. All present Board Members indicated yea. Mr. Saiff said for the next budget meeting he would work with M. Robinson to develop a budget that would preserve as many positions and programs as possible, as well as share the history of budget vote results.

 

 

INFORMATION

The Board received a copy of Mr. Saiff’s PowerPoint Presentation, cost savings suggestions by faculty members, figures for two budget options, a list of proposed reductions for the 2016-2017 school year, and a list of upcoming events of interest.

 

 

No. 2016-167

ADJOURNMENT

Motion made by J. Young and seconded by W. Witherell to adjourn at 8:43 P.M. 9 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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