Letter to the BKW School Community

Dear BKW School Community,

As we head into the final days before our annual budget vote, I encourage you to check out our website for all of the recent, and past, news about the great things our students have accomplished, and continue to accomplish. From the stage to the athletic fields, classrooms and community, our kids shine wherever they go and at whatever they do. It indeed has been a busy and successful school year.

On April 9, the Board of Education adopted a budget for the 2018-19 school year.  The $23,255,186 plan represents a 2.64% increase in spending over the 2017-18 budget. The budget includes a 1% tax levy increase, which is well below our tax cap limit. This will amount to about $20 to the average homeowner with a home assessed at $100,000. The budget includes the addition of a full day Pre-K program and fully funded elementary after school program, as well as funding for a technology device initiative in grades 3-12. The 1% tax levy increase covers the cost of adding the full day pre-k program. All current programming, staffing, and services remain in place, and, we will be adding three Agricultural Science courses to our course offerings. The budget reflects the values and goals identified at community forums over the past several years. We continue to provide new opportunities for students at little cost to taxpayers in our community. Everyone wins!

In light of the recent concerns for school safety following the Parkland (FL) incident, there has been much conversation about the addition of a school resource officer. Although budget development was mostly complete as these conversations emerged, we have been active in working with neighboring districts, Capital Region BOCES, and law enforcement since March 5 to explore possibilities for adding a resource officer in the 2018-19 school year.  As of last Friday, I can say for sure that I have worked out funding details for the addition of a resource officer through the Albany County Sheriff’s Department for the 2018-19 school year, and have indicated this to the Sheriff’s Office. I appreciate the partnership with the Sheriff’s Office to make this happen. We are also working with the NYS Troopers to identify a satellite office space for them in our facilities. There will be more to come on that. We have accommodated these recently expressed concerns and needs by reallocating monies within the proposed budget, with no impact to student programs.  Based on recent Board guidance, I believe these reallocations will be acceptable, and we will move forward in strengthening our safety and security measures.

In addition to the budget, the community will vote on a bus proposition authorizing the district to use reserve funds and bonds for the purchase of two 66-passenger buses and three suburban vehicles. This aligns with an ongoing fleet replacement plan. However, we are actually reducing the number purchased because of current route needs. The community will also vote on filling a seat on the Board of Education. There are two candidates running for the seat.  

I encourage all community members to vote on May 15. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and voting will take place in the Secondary School Auditorium.

Dr. Timothy Mundell
Superintendent of Schools