|
|
|
The Times
  • No concerns expressed during O-ECS budget hearing

  • No members of the public expressed concerns at a public hearing last week on the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District’s proposed $8.5 million budget for 2012 - 2013.

    That is according to Superintendent of Schools Dan Russom who said in an e-mail Tuesday the hearing was not as well attended as the board of education’s budget work sessions were.

    • email print
  • No members of the public expressed concerns at a public hearing last week on the Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District’s proposed $8.5 million budget for 2012 - 2013.
    That is according to Superintendent of Schools Dan Russom who said in an e-mail Tuesday the hearing was not as well attended as the board of education’s budget work sessions were.
    “I do believe this is due to the fact that during the work sessions, the board was very transparent in the process. They encouraged input from the public and listened carefully to their thoughts and concerns,” said Russom. “They themselves struggled with balancing the continued use of large amounts reserves versus the need to increase taxes in order to balance the budget. They looked to reduce wherever they could as long as it didn’t effect teaching and learning. They did not want to cut the academic program any further. Instead they wanted to provide more, if possible.”
    About a dozen residents attended the hearing on the budget that carries a proposed 4.5 percent increase in the tax levy and will require a supermajority vote by district residents on May 15 to pass.
    District officials said previously the 60 percent vote is necessary because the proposed tax levy increase is greater than the district’s state-imposed tax levy limit of 2.79 percent.
    The budget increases spending by one percent, or $84,702, from the current year. The amount of money to be raised by property taxes totals $2.55 million, up $109,954 from the current year.
    The proposed budget relies on $457,905 from the district’s $897,000 fund balance and $5.4 million from state aid, and includes more than $207,000 in spending reductions from 2011 - 2012.
    Reductions include $74,225 from the elimination of two custodial and bus driver positions; $50,000 from cutting the sports budget in half; $20,000 from eliminating a portable stage; $18,500 from eliminating the driver’s education program; $20,000 less for school field trips; $5,214 less for band field trips; $2,500 less for refurbishing band instruments and $17,000 less for other areas.
    The budget restores $36,010 in funding for technology — returning the technology instructor position to full-time — because school officials believe this subject area is essential for students. This would allow the district to offer two new classes — a general computer course to be required for all ninth-graders and an upper-level technology class to help students in college and their careers.
    If the budget fails to gain support from a supermajority of voters, the district can put the same or a revised budget up for a public vote on June 19 or adopt a contingent budget. If the budget is defeated a second time, the district will have no choice but to adopt a contingent budget.
    Under a contingent budget, the tax levy increase must be zero percent compared to the previous year. For Oppenheim-Ephratah, that would mean eliminating another $115,810 from the budget.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I commend the board of education for the work that went into this budget. The decisions they had to make were difficult. I believe the spending plan they developed was the best compromise that took into account the needs of academic programs for our children and being fiscally responsible to our district taxpayers,” Russom said in the e-mail.
    The budget vote will take place from 12 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, in the school lobby.
    There are no propositions on the ballot other than the budget vote.
    Six people will seek three seats on the board of education. The candidates are incumbent Jennifer Frasier, incumbent David Rackmyre, Cindy Breh, Bruce Carpenter, Ben Conte and Cheryl Lynch.
      • calendar