Update on Warwick's school budget and educational status

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    Editor's note: The following information comes from a press release from the office of Warwick Valley Schools Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Natale WARWICK-When the school budget proposal was defeated by voters on May 17, the Warwick School Board of Education was faced with two options, as stated by New York State Education law. The options available to the Board after a budget defeat are: • to resubmit the same or a revised budget to the voters, although there is no statutory requirement to do so where a budget has been rejected by the voters; • to prepare and adopt a contingency budget The law states that a school budget may only be submitted to the voters twice, with a public hearing held before the second vote. With that in mind, and with recent good news about academics in the district, the following is an update to residents on both of these issues. Academic update • Warwick's eighth-grade had the top scores in the Tri-County area on the state English assessments and is one of the top-ranked Middle Schools in New York State. • Warwick Middle School is designated as a New York State support school n a model for other middle schools. • Warwick's fourth-graders had the highest scores on the English assessments in all of Orange County, with 87.5 percent of students scoring at or above state standards. • Park Avenue Elementary had the highest score of any one school in the Tri-County area on the Grade 4 NYS assessments in English, with a perfect 100 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards. This makes Park Avenue Elementary one of the top-ranked schools in New York State. • Twenty teams at Warwick Valley High School received Scholar-Athlete Awards. The Girls' Track team, with a 98.4 overall grade point average, won the State Champion Scholar Athlete Award. • Of the 16 school districts in Orange County, Warwick has the 11th lowest cost-per-pupil in the county, yet consistently ranks at or near the top on most state assessments n doing more with less money. • Four out of five Warwick High School graduates pursue higher education. About the budget • The proposed budget represents the lowest tax increase and lowest budget increase in six years. • The Warwick Valley Central School District already has one of the lowest cost-per-pupil expenditures in the Mid Hudson Valley. If the budget is voted down a second time, the district must move to a contingency budget and would have to cut an estimated $1,000,000 from the budget. Under a contingency budget, the Board of Education would have to consider some or all of the following in choosing where to cut: • sports programs • full-day kindergarten program • fewer bus stops on various routes • music and art programs • high school electives • instructional staff, resulting in larger class sizes • clubs/intramurals • instructional equipment. If the school district must adopt a contingency budget, it doesn't mean taxes will not go up n they'll just go up a bit less. To the average Warwick homeowner with a house assessed at $40,000, the difference in taxes between what he/she would pay with the full school budget in place and what he/she would pay under a contingency budget is about $108 per year or $9 per month. About a year ago, the Board of Education chose "Great Community, Great Schools" as its motto for the Warwick School District n believing that you can't have one without the other. "I truly believe that Warwick is a great community," says Superintendent Dr. Joseph L. Natale. "The Board of Education has decided to place the budget up for a second and final vote on June 23. This is a very good school district, on the cusp of becoming a great one. Please vote." Vote details: The vote will be held on Thursday, June 23, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Kings School, Pine Island School and the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center at the Middle School. The vote is open to all qualified voters of the Warwick Valley Central School District. A qualified voter is: • A U.S. citizen and; • 18 years or older and; • A district resident for at least 30 days prior to the vote and; • Registered either with the Orange County Board of Elections or the Warwick Valley Central School District. Voter registration is held every school day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the District Office through noon on Friday, June 17. A special Registration Day will be held Thursday, June 16, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., at each of the three district polling locations.