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(May 21, 2013) On Tuesday, May 21, residents of the Ichabod Crane School District voted to support the proposed budget of $34,911,862 with a tax levy increase of 2.9 percent. Voters also approved the purchase of six (6) school buses with the cost not to exceed $376,000.
Proposition #1: Budget for the 2013-2014 School Year
Proposition #2: Bus Purchases
(Oct. 23, 2013) At its October 22 Workshop Meeting, the Board reviewed the results of the Voter Exit Survey completed after May’s budget vote. While only 60% of voters completed the survey, the Board still finds useful trends in voter responses and hopes to increase voter participation in May 2014. To view the presentation, click here.
To view the 2013 - 2014 Budget Report sent to all District Residents, click here...
To view the 2013 - 2014 Budget Proposal with Questions and Answers, click here...
To view the 2013 - 2014 General Fund Budget Document, click here...
For statements/biographies as submitted by the candidates, click here...
(Updated May 21, 2013)
Members of the Board of Education and approximately 70 attendees heard welcomed news from Superintendent George Zini as he presented the final proposed budget for 2013-2014.
At the Board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 9, Mr. Zini reported that Ichabod Crane received a substantial restoration of aid in New York State’s final budget. Specifically, Mr. Zini reported that Ichabod Crane has received $11,903,208 in state aid, an increase of $653,909 since the previous budget presentation at the March 25 community forum.
Mr. Zini was quick to point out that due to fiscal prudence and sacrifice through the last three budget cycles, Ichabod Crane entered the budget process in sound financial condition. The original proposed school budget included funding for existing staff and program levels without any cuts due to fiscal constraints.
However, with the last minute infusion of additional state aid, Mr. Zini and the administrative staff went to work to review the most prudent allocation of the additional revenue, remaining mindful of the comments and recommendations made by the public at the past four community budget forums. Mr. Zini indicated that additional expenditure allocations were made judiciously, given the instability of the economic climate.
In the revised budget report to the Board, Mr. Zini proposed that with the additional state aid funding, the tax levy be reduced from the originally proposed 3.84% to 2.9%.
Additionally, Mr. Zini made recommendations to allocate funding in the areas of staffing, student services, technology, communications, facilities, and safety as follows:
The Board of Education approved the proposed 2013-2014 school budget of $34,911,862 with a tax levy of 2.9% to be put to the community for a vote on Tuesday, May 21.
At its meeting, the Board also approved a proposition for voter approval that authorizes the purchase of six (6) school buses with the cost not to exceed $376,000. For the safety of the students, Mr. Zini stressed that maintaining a dependable fleet of buses is critical, and no additional taxes are incurred by the residents.
To review Mr. Zini’s PowerPoint presentation of the proposed 2013-2014 budget, click here…
(March 28, 2013) For the first time in three years, the proposed school budget for next year does not include any reductions due to fiscal constraints. Existing staff and program levels will be maintained.
The Ichabod Crane Board of Education reviewed the proposed 2013-14 school budget
at its fourth community forum on Tuesday, March 26. Superintendent George Zini indicated
that the topics to be addressed were to review the athletic proposal, as well as proposed budget
appropriations and revenues.
Mr. Zini reviewed the proposal for the athletic program first presented at the budget community forum on March 12. This proposal includes a transitional process to phase out the private funding of modified sports and football and be completely funded by 2015-16. Mr. Zini explained that through a reduction in stipend for the athletic director, funds realized through gate receipts, concession stand profits, and donations from the football supporters, the total impact on the 2013-14 athletic budget would be approximately $5,000. In comparison, Mr. Zini noted that the athletic budget is in line with other local schools, which is estimated at 0.68% of the total budget. This three-year transitional process will not have a negative effect on the academic programs, explained Mr. Zini.
As part of his slide presentation, Mr. Zini again reviewed the revenue and expenditure aspects of the budget, noting that the estimated budget of $34,496,198 would carry an estimated tax levy of 3.84%. This is within the required New York state maximum allowable levy, which requires a simple majority of votes for the budget to pass.
Mr. Zini reviewed that with the District’s reduction in state aid of 24% during the past four years and the negative impact of the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment, the trend is that a larger percentage of school funding has fallen to the local taxpayers, rather than through state aid.
In an effort to further clarify the complicated calculations in the state’s tax levy limit, as well as the Gap Elimination Adjustment, Mr. Zini included video presentations on these topics in his Power Point presentation.
Board President Anthony Welcome stated that the Board’s overall goal is to present a budget that can be supported by the community. Mr. Welcome explained the process if the proposed budget is rejected by the voters. He indicated that the Board had an option to revise the budget and resubmit it for a vote. If a second vote is rejected, the District must revert to a “contingency” budget, which means that the school district can levy no more taxes than it levied in the previous (2012-2013) school year.
Therefore, to meet the requirements of a contingent budget, the District would have to consider drastic reductions in the core academic program and services, which Mr. Welcome noted would amount to approximately $800,000.
Of the approximately 50 audience members, 13 people took to the podium to express their thinking about the current budget presentation.
To view the PowerPoint report presented by Mr. Zini, click here…
(March 15, 2013) On Tuesday, March 12, the Ichabod Crane Board of Education held the third of five budget community forums. Approximately 180 community members, staff and students were in attendance as Superintendent George Zini reported that the purpose of this meeting was to discuss updated appropriation estimates, tax levy, state aid/projected revenues, appropriations and revenue summary, as well as a proposal for the athletic program.
Mr. Zini reported that the expenditure side of the budget was reviewed and reworked since the last budget community forum on February 12, and the budget expenditure is now estimated to be $34,496,198, which is a 1.59% increase from the 2012-13 budget. As in previous budget presentations, this expenditure estimate includes all services presently offered, including the cost for football and modified sports programs, which are currently funded through private donations. Through a slide presentation, Mr. Zini reviewed the changes in estimated appropriations which resulted in savings found since the February presentation. Mr. Zini indicated the challenges in the budget are the significant increases in the teachers’ and non-instructional staff retirement contributions, as well as the retiree health insurance. These costs are not directly determined by the District.
Mr. Zini reviewed the tax levy limits and the complicated calculations that determine the final maximum allowable levy, which requires a simple majority to pass. By including some reserve funds in the revenue side of the budget, the tax levy is projected at 3.84%.
State aid has been reduced by 24% during the past four years, noted Mr. Zini. For 2013-2014, state aid is anticipated to increase by $207,689, but that amount is “woefully inadequate,” noted Mr. Zini. The final state aid figures have not been determined at this time and they may change slightly.
The proposed 2013-14 budget of $34,496,198 can be achieved without any cuts or changes to current programs, thereby maintaining existing staff and program levels. This is good news considering the past three years’ budget cycles have included many reductions.
Regarding the Athletic Program, Mr. Zini proposed that the football and modified sports programs be included in the total budget, and explained a transitional process to phase out the private funding of these programs and have them completely funded by 2015-16. He indicated that the supporters of football have earned more than $300,000 during the past six years to initiate and maintain the program. With no anticipated cuts in staffing or programs next year, the addition of the funding of these programs would not have a negative effect on other areas.
Members of the audience were encouraged to vocalize their opinions at the forum and expressed their thoughts on topics such as class size, music and art programs, athletics, taxes and the requirements for the school lunch program.
The budget will be adopted at the Board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 7 pm.
To view the PowerPoint report presented by Mr. Zini, click here...
On Tuesday, February 12, the Ichabod Crane Board of Education held the second of five budget community forums. Superintendent George Zini reported that the purpose of this meeting was to provide information pertaining to student enrollment, class size, budget expenditures and initial state aid projections.
Through a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Zini reviewed the student enrollment numbers from the past seven years and noted the decline of approximately 330 students. This decline resulted in the closing of two school buildings and the layoff of 60 staff members. However, projections indicated that enrollment should remain fairly stable at the current levels in the coming years.
Mr. Zini reviewed graphs depicting the average class sizes from grades kindergarten through 12. He noted that there have not been significant variances in average class sizes over the past seven years. He reported that kindergarten projections for 2013-14 are estimated on the higher side and actual enrollment, which may be less, will not be known until registration is completed.
Mr. Zini indicated that in the past few years, the District has made some difficult, but necessary, fiscally sound decisions that have helped to position the District in a better financial state. However, the question still remains, “How do we continue to provide quality, educational programs for our children and grandchildren within the constraints of:
State aid has not kept pace with increased costs and the burden has fallen to the taxpayer, noted Mr. Zini.
Based on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, the preliminary projections for aid for Ichabod Crane for the 2013-2014 school year is $11,249,371. This represents an increase of $207,689 over last year. However, these numbers can change until a final state budget is approved by the Legislature. Mr. Zini also noted that although the District may anticipate an increase in state aid next year, there has been a reduction in aid over the last four years of $3,558,318.
Relative to projected expenditures, Mr. Zini reported that in order to maintain the current 2012-13 programs and services offered to students, the estimated cost in the 2013-14 school year would be $34,915,509, which represents an increase by $960,696 or 2.83%. Mr. Zini stated that the expenditure estimate is still a work in progress as he continues to seek efficiencies to reduce expenditures without impacting student services. The expenditure estimate includes all services presently offered, including the cost for football and modified sports programs which are currently funded through private donations. However, he stressed that since this is a preliminary expenditure projection and final revenues are not yet known, the decision on whether or not football, modified sports, or other programs remain in the budget has not been made. These decisions will be made in March once the total expenditure and revenue amounts become clearer.
To view the PowerPoint report presented by Mr. Zini, click here…
(Jan. 22, 2013) On Tuesday, January 15, the Ichabod Crane Board of Education held its first in a series of public community forums to discuss the school budget for 2013-2014. The topic for the evening’s presentation was the Ichabod Crane Athletic Program.
Superintendent George Zini reviewed the financial and programmatic actions that transpired during the past several years to bring Ichabod Crane to its current sound financial status. He noted that efficiencies were examined resulting in the closing of two elementary buildings, staff layoffs, and the reorganization of transportation services, to name a few.
Approximately 60 staff and community members in attendance viewed a PowerPoint presentation which summarized the District’s athletic programs, including student participation, accomplishments, and projected financial costs. Mr. Zini indicated that as more information regarding state funding becomes available over the next several months, a realistic picture will emerge of whether Ichabod Crane could finance all sports without the need for private fund raising.
To view the PowerPoint report regarding the Ichabod Crane athletic program, click here….