Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell
Students and teachers like these from Liberty CS will be affected by the May 16 public school budget votes around the county
School Budget Votes
Coming Tuesday, May 16
By John Emerson, Rob Potter, Susan Monteleone and Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY May 12, 2000 -- If youre a registered voter of any of Sullivan Countys eight public school districts, this Tuesday, May 16, is the day you and thousands of others will have the opportunity to determine the financial future (and perhaps more) of your home school.
More information can be obtained from your schools business office, but, as a service to the community, the Democrat has compiled the most relevant data so as to present it here.
Budget and related proposition votes are scheduled to be held at the following schools at various times on Tuesday:
Voters in the Eldred Central School District will be going to the polls on May 16 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. to vote on the 2000-2001 school budget.
According to Superintendent Candace Mazur, the new budget carries a 4.8 percent over last years 3.27 percent increase. The full amount to be raised by taxes is $8,558,700. Mazur added that the only positions in the budget being proposed include the Special Education teacher position going from a part-time to a full-time position, the Committee Chairperson for Special Education changing from part-time to full-time (this position will be at no cost to the district) and adding a one-on-one aide at the elementary school.
We have done our very best to keep the budget spending down and still maintain the quality programs for our students, added Mazur.
Residents in the Town of Highland and Town of Lumberland are asked to cast their votes in regards to the budget at the Eldred Senior High School.
Fallsburgs School District spent this year on a so-called austerity or contingent budget. The proposed spending package for the 2000-2001 school year, slightly more than $20.6 million, represents a spending increase of approximately $800,000, or 3.87 percent over this years school budget of about $19.8 million.
We tried to stay pretty vanilla with the budget this year, said Superintendent Gary Holbert. Were not implementing any new programs, and most of the increase is caused by increases in fuel oil costs and health insurance.
The goal this year is that voters will pass the budget so that the district can come off the austerity budget they had to work with last year. If voters again reject the school budget for 2000-2001, the district will be forced to cut about $885,000 from the budget about $85,000 more than the proposed spending increase.
Holbert said those cuts would have to come in several areas including teaching staff, afterschool programs, class electives, modified sports and other spots that will severely impact student lives.
It will have a serious impact on all of our programs if the budget doesnt pass, he said.
In addition to the budget, Fallsburg School District voters will be asked to choose between Kevin McDaniel and Darryl A. Wells for the only contested seat on the school board. Wells and McDaniel are opposing each other in a bid to fill the unexpired term of Martha Slimskey, who resigned from the board. The term is for one year.
The other school board candidates who will appear on the ballot are running without opposition for three seats. Those candidates include Shawn F. Wiles, Karen Fountain and incumbent Robert Scheinman. Wiles and Fountain are running for the seats currently held by Ruby Gold and Robert Krutman, neither of whom is seeking re-election.
The polling place for the election is at Fallsburg High School from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
This year, Liberty Central School District officials are proposing a $22.64 million budget for the 2000-2001 school year, an increase of slightly more than $1 million over the current budget of about $21.589 million, or approximately 4.87 percent.
As is true with many school districts throughout Sullivan County, increases in the proposed budget are caused, for the most part, by contractual obligations and increases in health insurance and fuel costs, said Superintendent Brian Howard.
In order to help meet the increased graduation standards for students, the district is adding two new full-time teaching positions to the staff and increasing an additional position from halftime to full-time. At the elementary school level, a reading and writing teachers position is being increased. The new positions include a remedial math teacher for the middle school and a new high school math teacher.
This is a very basic and very responsible budget, said Howard. We tried to balance the needs of the students with the resources within the community. If we are forced to reduce this budget further, well be hurting programs.
Howard said that the late state budget once again posed problems for the school board and district officials as they tried to anticipate the amount of state aid money that would be available for the district in the coming year. He also said the state has yet to meet its obligations to supply additional funds to help school districts meet the new state educational guidelines and tougher standards.
In the race for the school board, Matthew Frumess and incumbent Joyce Burnett are running unopposed for the two seats that will be voted on in this election. Frumess will take current school board member John Milanos seat on the board. Milano did not seek re-election to the board.
Voting hours in the election will be from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Liberty High School Gym at 115 Buckley Street in Liberty.
Voters in the Livingston Manor Central School District will be heading to the polls to decide upon a $9,530,703 spending plan for the 2000-2001 school year.
Voting will take place at the school between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The figure represents a 4.7 percent increase over the 1999-2000 budget of $9,101,436, but should not affect the tax levy.
Taxpayers should see no tax increase, said LMCS Business Manager Christine Bergner. Were very proud of that fact. This will be the fourth year in a row of no tax increase.
Among the reasons for the increase in the amount of the new budget are payment of a bond issue debt service, restoration of the elementary school wing, a heating system upgrade, lockerroom renovations and parking lot paving. There are no new teaching or staff positions included in the 2000-01 spending plan.
Residents will also be asked to fill two school board seats. Current Board President Judy Van Put is seeking to retain her seat but is being challenged by Elizabeth Mohr. Incumbent Allen Clark and Cathy Mead are vying for the other board position.
Like Bergner, Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Gray is proud that the districts proposed budget will not ask the taxpayers to contribute any more than they did this school year.
We hope the people come out and vote, Gray said. We think its a good budget and hope the residents support it.
Voters in the Monticello School District are facing a proposed budget of slightly more than $44 million when they go to the polls. The increase of slightly less than seven percent means that the district plans to spend a little more than $2.875 million over last years school budget of approximately $41.2 million.
About two percent of that increase, one-quarter of the overall increase, is directly attributable to debt service on the Classroom 2000 program, according to Schools Superintendent Eileen Casey. An additional one percent of the increase is targeted for new school buses to replace aging buses within the 74 vehicles that make up the districts fleet of vehicles.
The district plans to replace three full-size 66-passenger buses, a 48-passenger bus, a 30-passenger bus, a Suburban van and fulfill the lease purchase agreements for three buses that were needed this year.
Casey said the buses need to be replaced because more than half of the districts vehicles will be more than 10 years old in January 2001. Overall, school vehicles travel more than a million miles a year transporting students to and from school as well as on field trips, to and from athletic events and to other extracurricular activities.
The district is also adding three new staff positions to meet state demands and reach state standards for the new mandates. The three new positions include a new English as a Second Language teacher, a new science teacher in the high school and a foreign language teacher who will split time between the high school and middle school.
One thing voters will not have to choose in this years election is a new member of the Monticello School Board. Incumbent Vivian Liff is running without opposition as she seeks re-election to her seat on the board. The seat carries a five-year term.
Voting in the school budget election will take place at five polling places throughout the district from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The polling locations include the Forestburgh Town Hall for Forestburgh residents, the Emma C. Chase School in Wurtsboro for residents of Mamakating, the Cornelius Duggan School in White Lake for Bethel residents and the Rock Hill Fire Department for those Town of Thompson residents residing in the vicinity of Rock Hill. All other voters in the district will cast their ballots at the Monticello Middle School.
The proposed 2000-2001 budget of $4,195,997 at Roscoe Central School, which includes a public library appropriation, is a 1.01 percent increase over the 1999-2000 spending plan of $4,162,992.
But that slight increase will have no effect on the tax levy.
For the fourth year in a row, the Roscoe taxpayers will not see an increase, said Roscoe Central School Superintendent George Will.
The added costs will cover items such as the implementation of a new full-year pre-K program, additional late bus runs (from two days a week to four days a week), increasing the availability of a computer technician from four days a week to five and enhancing an early literacy program for students in grades Pre-K to 3. No new staff or teaching positions are included in the budget.
Voting will take place at the school cafeteria from 12:30 p.m. until 8 p.m..
School board members Merlin Brock and Ed Park, who were appointed to the board three months ago following the resignations of Norm DeCotes and Roger Lynker, are seeking election to the board. Each seat has a three-year term.
Will noted that the district is happy to offer yet another budget that doesnt require district taxpayers to dig any deeper into their wallets.
Were very excited about that, Will said. And there are three main reasons for that careful financial management, a debt service that ends with the 1999-2000 budget and increased revenue from New York State.
Now that Delaware Valley, Jeffersonville-Youngsville and Narrowsburg central schools have merged into Sullivan West, voters will be faced with approving a complex budget designed to meet the needs of this newborn tri-school system.
One important point to note immediately is that all eligible residents must register to vote with the school district, as each schools voter registration books were rendered obsolete by the merger vote.
Unless they are already registered to vote with the countys Board of Elections, district residents must be registered with the school before the May 16 vote. Some may have already accomplished this through registration at the recent library merger vote or the May 10 registration day at all three schools, but if you are uncertain, call the district clerk at 482-4610.
The board and administration of Sullivan West are proposing a $21 million budget for the 2000-2001 school year, an increase of 2.61 percent over last years $20.48 million budget. Taxes are expected to increase by nearly two percent.
The increase is attributed to the rising cost of health insurance for employees, raises in salaries, merging sports teams and larger transportation needs for the 1,805-student population.
The budget is, in essence, a carryover from last years, said Superintendent Michael Johndrow, adding that the 13 percent jump in health insurance premiums and the merging/transportation costs for the sports teams (which are now participating in the higher-fee Orange County League) were significant factors in the half-million-dollar budget increase.
Voters will also say yes or no to a proposition to establish a $3 million districtwide construction and reconstruction reserve fund to set aside money to use in upcoming building and building renovation projects. The monies involved will mostly come from incentive aid that is not used to offset tax increases and from the three former schools capital reserve funds. Once in place, that money cannot be used unless voters give their approval.
Three trustee seats are up for grabs, although incumbent K.C. Garn is running unopposed. Current board members Jeffrey Nober and Richard Sandler will be squared off against Arthur Norden and Tim Lanese, respectively, all for three-year terms.
From noon to 9 p.m. on May 16, residents can vote at the DV gym (if they live in the former DV district), the J-Y 1938 gym (if they live in the former J-Y district) or the Tusten-Cochecton Library in Narrowsburg (if they live in the former Narrowsburg district).
Unlike voters in other Sullivan County districts, Tri-Valley Central School taxpayers will be required to pay a little more if they approve the 2000-2001 proposed budget of $17,132,226.
That figure represents a 4.5 percent increase over the 1999-2000 budget of $16,394,475.
The tax levy increase will be a maximum of four-and-a-half percent, depending on the towns, said Tri-Valley Superintendent George Vanderzell, referring to the fact that the town in which a particular taxpayer lives will determine whether or not that person sees their bill increase by the full 4.5 percent or a lesser amount.
Part of the added costs stem from the creation of three new positions in the district. An intermediate teacher, part-time technology teacher and part-time speech technician are included in the budget.
Voting on the 2000-01 spending plan will take place between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the school gymnasium.
I think its an educationally sound and financially sound proposal, Vanderzell explained. Those are the two goals the school board has whenever the members sit down and plan a budget. And they seem to have done that.
An at-large method of voting will be used to fill board seats in Tuesdays election. Current board members Gary Ter Bush and Lori Mickelson are seeking to retain their seats. The seats of Peter Ford, who has chosen not to run for re-election, and Peter Swain, who resigned from the board last month, also need to be filled.
Five candidates Mickelson, Ter Bush, Leonard Bernstein, Mark Boncek and Brian Edwards are vying for the four seats. The top three vote-getters will receive three-year terms, while the fourth-place finisher will complete the one year remaining on Swains term.