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August 25, 2019
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General News: School Budget Forum

2019-20 Proposed Budget Communication Public Forum 05/18/19. Photo by Hannah Comitz.
2019-20 Proposed Budget Communication Public Forum 05/18/19. Photo by Hannah Comitz.
May 20, 2019

2019-20 Proposed Budget Communication Public Forum 05/18/19
By Hannah Comitz

This meeting was held to answer questions about the budget that is being voted on Tuesday, May 21st. Voting takes place at the NYMA Gymnasium from 6am-9pm. The items on the ballot include the districts annual program budget and three Board of Education seats.

The board wanted to hold a public forum for anyone in the community to come ask questions to the board directly. The board would like to continue to have these interactie meetings every quarter to clear up misunderstanding and answer questions that can’t be answered during a normal meeting. The board also wanted to add that questions and concerns can be addressed through email. On Saturday’s meeting, four community members and three board members attended.

The board hopes to add more to the capital reserve fund so it can be used to add something bigger to the community once enough money is added to the fund.

A firm was hired to do a building conditions survey. Right now, the facilities committee is planning to meet to get an update from that firm. The board said that the point of hiring the new firm was to start seeing things through a new lense. A meeting is planned to be held in June to decide further changes based on the survey outcomes.

A community member asked what would happen to the capital projects since the bonds were not passed. She was concerned that the necessary repairs were not going to be done. In response the board replied that the capital fund is where it is right now so that nothing imperative is taken away. Maintenance is happening as best as possible. Projects such as bathrooms and electrical needs are being taken care of as problems arise. The transformer at the middle school, which is inside the building, will move outside. This will double the electrical capability of the entire building which will take the middle school well into the future.

There are plans to build security entrances at the four schools for guests using different grants from Senator Larkin and Skoufis. The designs are not the same as proposed earlier due to budgetary confines of the grants. The board said that the new plans are smaller yet efficient and still effective.

The board has begun hiring skilled tradesman instead of large contractors, which tends to be cheaper. The board is now able to do more with the money and repair things such as lavatories. The board will not be able to do everything on the bond but the tasks that have priority will get done.

Non-funded mandates were a popular topic at this meeting. There are lots of mandates with no funding behind it that the district must do. Money is not provided by the state for these required mandates, which makes other projects more expensive in result. It also leaves less money for improvements throughout the district.

One of the key points of change that will occur if the budget passes will be the addition of a new special education program. These new programs will bring special needs children of all age groups back into the community. Currently the district has to pay to send these children outside of the community for care, which can be very expensive for the district and inconvenient for the family. These new programs can potentially better the entire district and save the district money in the long run.

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