The BKW Board of Education on April 19 adopted a $23.67 proposed budget for the 2021-22 school year which lowers the district tax levy while maintaining educational programs.
A public vote on the budget will be held on Tuesday, May 18, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.
The proposed 2021-22 BKW budget represents a slight spending increase of 0.98 percent or $230,121 over the current year budget and a tax levy decrease of 2.0 percent or $219,991.
The budget increase is attributed to annual contractual salary obligations and debt service related to the recent capital improvement project. The tax levy decrease is due to $194,000 more in Foundation Aid awarded to BKW by the New York State Legislature, and a promise to fully fund Foundation Aid for all school districts over the next three years.
“That should add much-needed stability for our financial planning going forward,” said Superintendent Timothy Mundell.
The proposed budget focuses on student-centered expenses and calls for maintaining all current staffing levels and existing academic programming, including two sections of Pre-Kindergarten. It also restores basic equipment funding frozen in 2020-21 during the state’s financial uncertainty due to COVID-19. The district also expects to realize savings in employee benefit expenses, money it has shifted to finance instructional costs.
In addition to the annual budget, the district is expected to receive more than $2.25 million in federal coronavirus relief funding over the next five years to supplement (not supplant) state funding for local education. The federal money is being awarded to the states and then to the school districts under two bills: The Coronavirus Response and Relief Act (CRRSA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Money under these bills is separate from the district’s general fund and must be spent for specific purposes. This includes:
- 20 percent of funds are to be used for addressing “loss of learning” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Pre-K programs
- Summer and after school remedial and enrichment programs
- Student academic support particularly for special education and economically disadvantaged children
- Facility maintenance, upgrades, or repairs aimed at mitigating the spread of coronavirus
- Routine maintenance aimed at supporting student, faculty, and staff health and safety
- Procuring devices, other hardware, software, or connectivity to enhance technology access for students, faculty and staff
- Any authorized activities outlined in the Perkins CTE Grant program
2021 Voting Information
Voting on the 2021-22 district budget and Board of Education election will take place on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., in the elementary school cafeteria.
Any U.S. citizen who is 18 years of age or older and a resident of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District for at least 30 days prior to the date of the vote is eligible to cast a ballot in the budget/school board vote. But first you must be registered. Those who are registered for the general elections are automatically registered for school votes.
For any questions on how to register to vote or about applying for an absentee ballot, contact District Clerk Anne Farnam at (518) 872-1293 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bus Purchase Proposition
One other proposition will appear on the May, 2021 ballot. The district is seeking voter approval to purchase three (3) 72-passenger school buses and (2) 28-passenger buses at a cost not to exceed $504,000. The district would use $150,000 from the Transportation Reserve Fund toward the purchases. The bus purchases are eligible for state aid.
Board of Education Election
One candidate, Lisa Joslin, has submitted petitions to run for one seat open July 1, 2021 on the BKW Board of Education. The seat, which carries a three-year term, is now held by board member Randy Bashwinger, who is not seeking re-election.