Dear BKW Community,
On April 15, I proposed a final budget for the 2019-20 school year to the Board of Education for their adoption.
The budget development process began in October with the Budget Advisory Committee reviewing last year’s audit and considering areas of the budget for long-term planning, such as health insurance costs, transportation costs, and instructional costs related to enrollment. The committee reviewed historical data related to budget growth from 2000-2018, as well as staffing and enrollment data dating back to 2008. The committee also reviewed the financing plan for the upcoming capital project and its impact on annual budgets through the life of the 15-year bonds. We have followed the NYS budget process to know what state aid resources are available to us for next year.
The business office has worked with all of our departments to identify needs for next year and computed the associated costs by category and line item. Ms. King, our business manager, developed a list of revenues for next year. We made presentations at the February and March Board meetings to keep the Board and the public informed of the status.
I am pleased to share with you that the 2019-20 BKW School District Budget maintains all current staffing and programming for next year. It also includes the expansion of our Pre-K program from one section to two sections for 2019-20. Other budget highlights include:
- Maintaining all program and staffing at current levels
- Funding for the long-term sustainability of Pre-K, Bulldog Club, Speech Therapy, and the School Resource Officer program
- Training a staff member in preparation for adding AP Marine Science, making nearly 20 college credit bearing courses available to our students
- Adoption of I-Ready Formative Math Assessment program for real-time data analysis
- Funding to support regional curriculum development work to align with Next Gen standards
- Support for a long-term plan for replacing obsolete capital equipment
We have been able to continue to add programming and address needed capital equipment replacement through solid fiscal responsibility. The total growth of the budget from this year to next is 2.7%. According to the New York State School Boards Association, the average budget growth across the State will be approximately 2.4%. Through cost savings and wise use of refunds, rebates, and reserves, we are able to keep the tax levy growth in check as well. I have proposed a tax levy increase of 0.5%. This equates to about $12 on a home with an assessed value of $100,000. Our tax levy limit calculation would allow us to increase the levy by up to 2%. So, we are well below the tax cap.
Of course, schooling is a human services business and the bulk of our expenses are in the areas of salary and health insurance. On April 9, we learned that the rates for our prescription drug insurance plan for employees will increase by $400,000 for next year We worked hard, in a short period of time, to understand why this happened, and then, to find an answer for the added expense in next year’s budget.
Most important, in this budget conversation is our students. We have seen that wise investments in student programs yields great returns. Our student academic performance is rising; students are recognized for their accomplishments across the state; and our graduation rate has risen to be among the top rates in the Capital Region. When provided with new opportunities, our students and staff shine among their peers. “They are because we are.”
This year’s budget vote will take place on May 21, 2019, from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. in the Secondary Auditorium.
Please look for additional budget details on our website. With the beginning of the capital project work this summer, and support for our spending plan, we have a great opportunity to continue to move our district and community toward excellence.
Dr. Timothy Mundell
Superintendent of Schools