School board approves 2017-18 calendar, preliminary budget

Elise Amendola  AP
Elise Amendola AP

17 May, 2017

With a 259 to 198 vote, Medina district residents voted to reduce the number of sitting members of the board of education from nine to seven beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.

Voters are only asked to approve the district general fund - $186 million.

The spending package in the budget for 2017-18 is up about $217,800 over the current year's budget.

Christine Schlosman, chief financial officer for the district, recommended the 0.4-mill increase to balance a $2.6 million shortfall in the proposed budget due to increased expenses.

Voters also approved, in a vote of 241 to 96, a proposition allowing East Hampton to establish a capital reserve fund for future districtwide improvements related to growing enrollment, property acquisition, and the replacement of technology and telecommunications equipment, infrastructure, and software.

The voters in two local districts, East Aurora and Maryvale, will have a tougher decision. Heather Welch received 694 votes; Alan Barone drew 67.

Last week, supervisors voted to appropriate $1.488 million in additional funds for the Woodbrook project when construction bids went over budget.

District Superintendent Roger Catania said results for the three open school board seats would not be available Tuesday night as personnel would need until Wednesday morning to count write-in votes.

This time the spending increase will be modest, staying with the state-mandated tax cap.

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In other business, Bodamer gave a presentation on Community Eligibility Provision funding that will provide free lunches to every student in the school district next year.

Jacqueline Lowey and John J. Ryan Sr., who were running uncontested to keep their seats on the school board, got 278 and 302 votes, respectively. These cost increases represent budget growth of 1.11 percent.

Board members present approved the preliminary budget unanimously, with three board members, Pat Vigliotta, Helen Schuster and Dave Feely, absent. The budget passed by a vote of 324-70. Bodamer said the average taxpayer pays $1,068 in school real estate taxes, which would continue if the preliminary budget is passed by the board at the June 26 meeting.

A complex state formula for raising the tax cap required a 60 percent majority of residents to support the budget in order for it to pass, despite the district not raising its $25.8 million levy. Also when looking at vacation days during the second semester next year, students will get back the President's Day holiday on February 19, as well as an additional day over Easter (March 29-April 2) for a total of five days off for the holiday.

"I am certainly not happy with the 1.89 percent tax increase", Pfender said.

On the bright side of the budget picture, Adams reported that 9.1 percent of the proposed budget, more than 9.1 percent, is funded through grants, despite a $200,000 decrease in the Kellogg Foundation grant through which the district has been expanding and enhancing early education efforts.

Board President Timothy O'Brien, Vice President Mark Bonjavanni and board members Jeanne DePompo, Laurence Gurman, MaryRose Malley, Cristy Mangano, James Moretti and Miller voted to adopt the budget.

A spokeswoman for Denver Public Schools confirmed recently that the district received a request for information in April from federal immigration officials.

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