WVSD board warns of projected $870,000 shortfall

District to reduce number of teachers, mainly through attrition, to help offset gap

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By Abby Wolf

— As another budget season dawns, the Warwick Valley School Board opened its regular meeting on Monday night with the warning that the district anticipates a funding gap of some $870,000 on a projected budget of $3.4 million for the 2018-19 school year.

The projected budget would be an increase of $212,000 over the current year’s $3,188,939.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach told members of the public in attendance that the shortfall is “the difference between expected revenue and estimated expenses.”

He added that the district is looking at eliminating positions, largely through attrition, and will “realize significant savings from the retirement of about eight teachers.”

“These are all fantastic teachers,” Leach added. “(It’s) a huge loss to the school district.”

Even with declining enrollment, Leach pointed out that the district’s goal is to maintain a quality academic program for the students on the one hand, and minimize the impact on district taxpayers on the other.

“The average growth in the tax levy is among the lowest in the region,” he said.

In addition, Leach said, the administration is likely to make further administrative cuts, with a “possible reorganization of the Pupil Personnel Services office from two to one central office administrator.”

Currently, taxes are the primary source of revenue for Warwick Valley schools, at nearly 66 percent of the total; the district receives about 28 percent of its funding from New York State aid; the remainder of the district’s revenue comes from a combination of non-tax sources, such as tuition-paying students and real estate rental income from district properties, at just under 3.7 percent; appropriated fund balance, at 1.89 percent; and the library bond tax, at 0.46 percent, rounding out the remainder.

The district won’t know how much aid it can anticipate from the state until anywhere from April 1 – when Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget is supposed to be adopted, to August – when the district has its final totals for expenditures to be reimbursed by Albany after the end of the school year.

Leach said that some similar-sized districts to Warwick receive more in state aid: Minisink in particular receives about $15 million more in state aid, or about 44 percent of its revenue, versus 28 percent for Warwick.

By contrast, Cornwall receives 43 percent, and Pine Bush gets about 48 percent in aid.

Based on the “combined-wealth ratio,” or the district’s income levels and ability to pay its bills, Warwick is considered a more affluent community, and so receives less aid by comparison.

Solar project begins generating electricityLeach said that the district’s solar power project on Sanfordville Road began generating electricity on Feb. 6, when inspectors from Orange & Rockland brought it on-line. Power from the project will feed into O&R’s grid and will give the district a per/megawatt monetary credit: the district stands to save about $300,000 a year.

Middle school hires SRODavid Serviss, Student Resource Officer, joined the middle school this week.

“With the retirement of some school security personnel, it made sense to strengthen security in these times and to enhance the education of our middle school students,” Leach said. “This role provides a highly visible presence to deter or identify trespassers on campus.

“A function of the SRO in preventing disturbances at the school is standing as a positive role model and presence in the lives of the students,” he added.

Other businessGarret Van Gelder won first place at the Eastern New York Annual Subregional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium on February 3 at SUNY Albany. Garret advances to the Upstate NY JSHS at University of Albany on March 7 and 8.

Senior Jacqueline Grundfast has been named among The Mars Generation’s “24 Under 24 Leaders and Innovators in STEAM and Space.” Twenty four students from around the world – including 13 young scientists from the US – were recognized.

Grundfast established the WVCSD Astronomy Club, and was inspired to secure funding from the school district to build a robotic telescope for her community, promoting night sky exploration.

The school board gave its assent for the high school cosmetology’s trip to the Jacob Javitz Center in NYC for the International Beauty Show on March 6. While there, students will see new products and learn new techniques.

Next Work session: Elementary comprehensive school plans and budget update, Feb. 26, 7 p.m., at Sanfordville Elementary School

Regular meeting: March 12, 7 p.m., at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center.

Secondary comprehensive school plans and budget update: March 19, 7 p.m., at the high school.

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