By Rich Place
The Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education on Tuesday paved the way for three propositions to be included on the ballot when district residents go to the polls during the annual school budget vote in mid-May.
Following approval of a handful of separate resolutions, the ballot will feature the traditional budget resolution, a proposition to purchase school buses and a third proposition for the district to proceed with the recently discussed P-TECH capital project.
The 2018-19 school budget — a $38.82 million spending plan with a 3.91 percent increase in the tax levy — was unanimously approved by board members. The rate is within the maximum allowable tax levy, according to school business administrator Maureen Lee.
The budget represents a $1.98 million increase compared to the current budget, and board members on Tuesday again discussed the increase in special education costs as well as traditional increases such as contractual obligations.
A community member voiced concern at the beginning of the meeting about the special education cost increase, which Lee clarified later in the meeting. The students with disabilities line of the budget jumped from $3.78 million in 2017-18 to a projected $4.89 million next year.
“In general yes, the BOCES budget is going up and the majority of it is because of ‘special ed’,” she told the board. “These are our most marginalized students and again, we have no choice. We must educate them and we must do it according to state regulations and to their IEPs (Individualized Education Programs).”
Both Lee and Superintendent Kimberly Moritz said they expect a favorable outcome from the state in terms of state aid, according to the latest reports and meetings with those familiar with the developments.
Lee said an increase in Foundation Aid is already included in recent budget projections and, should the aid increase more than anticipated, less money could be used from reserve accounts or the money could be spent elsewhere.
The bus proposition — commonplace on the annual school budget vote — would allow for the district to spend no more than $859,977 on an assortment of 10 buses that is part of the school’s replacement cycle.
The P-TECH project resolution, which will be the third proposition on the budget vote in May, asks for the public’s permission to proceed with a $14.73 million capital project in conjunction with Erie 2 BOCES and Alfred State to bring the program to Springville.
P-TECH, which stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School, is a five- or six-year program for freshmen high school students that allows them to earn both a state Regents Diploma and an associate’s degree.
School board member Chris Cerrone noted he was glad to see language in the resolution explain that the lease by the district to BOCES will “provide the District with a stream of rental payments sufficient to cover the District’s anticipated ‘local share’ of the cost of the Project,” as stated in the resolution passed by the board.
Moritz said information on the P-TECH project is planned to be included in the budget newsletter and other budget information for area residents prior to their vote in May.
“I think it’s important that the taxpayers get that document and are educated on everything they are expected to vote on,” she said. She also stressed the importance of making sure the resolution is clear to taxpayers and not confused with the traditional budget vote.
In other business at its Tuesday meeting, the SGI School Board approved a resolution approving the joint bidding of commodities with Erie 2 BOCES, essentially allowing the district to partner with BOCES to bid on items that multiple districts will use. Lee called the program a “great cost savings.”
The board also approved two field trip requests at its meeting — one allows the SGI’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) students to attend the NYSFFA Convention from May 17 to 19 in Rochester and a second that allows the Colden Elementary School fifth grade to travel to Camp Odosagih on June 14 and 15 for their Fifth Grade Outdoor Educational Experience.
Due to spring break the first week of April, the next regular meeting of the SGI School Board will take place at 6:30 p.m. April 17 in the high school library media center.