Proposed 2022-23 district budget lowers tax levy while maintaining educational programs

The BKW Board of Education on March 28 approved a $24.68 million proposed budget for the 2022-23 school year which lowers the district tax levy while maintaining all current educational programming.

The proposed spending plan for 2022-23 totals $24,688,027 and represents a spending increase of 4.29 percent or $1,015,779 over the current year budget and a tax levy decrease of 0.5 percent or -$53,897.

The year-to-year budget increase is attributed to annual contractual salary obligations, an 8 percent hike in health insurance premiums, higher projected fuel and heating costs and increased debt service related to the recent capital improvement project. The district, however, is expected to receive an increase in state aid to education of nearly $435,000 once state lawmakers approve the state budget before them. It also expects to save about $230,000 next school year due to staff retirements.

The proposed budget focuses on student-centered expenses and calls for maintaining all current staffing levels and existing academic programming. It also maintains summer enrichment and support, after school programs like Bulldog Club, all athletics, clubs and activities, late bus runs and educational support programs like iReady, Math and Horizons Reading.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be held on Tuesday, May 3, 7 p.m., in the elementary school cafeteria. Voting on the proposed budget, two propositions and two Board of Education seats will go before district voters on Tuesday, May 17. Polls will be open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.

Also on the May 17 ballot are:

Building Purchase Proposition – 1772 Helderberg Trail

The district is seeking voter approval to spend up to $410,000 to purchase the building and property located at 1772 Helderberg Trail. The property, located next to the school, includes: a 1.1-acre lot, zoned commercial/residential; a building with 2,400 square feet of space currently set up as office space and 1,900 square feet currently used as a residential area; a paved lot with 20 marked spaces and additional unmarked spaces; and a two-car garage.
The building purchase is not part of the 2022-23 proposed budget and would not require borrowing or use of additional tax revenues. The district plans on using $410,000 in left over fund balance from the current school year budget to finance the purchase – a one-time expense. The residential portion of the building would be used to house the BKW business offices which are now located across the street in the bus garage building. The bus garage was built in 1965, is in need of exterior repairs and heating and ventilation upgrades and has become a health risk to district staff. The office portion of the building purchase is now occupied by a nurse practitioner who would continue to rent the space. The Board of Education approved a contract to purchase 1772 Helderberg Trail in February pending voter approval of the proposition.

Bus Purchase Proposition

The district is seeking voter approval to purchase three (3) 72-passenger school buses and (2) smaller 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

Two seats are up for election on the Board of Education, each carrying new three-year terms beginning July 1, 2022. Those seats are currently held by board President Matthew Tedeschi and member Rebecca Miller. The deadline for candidates to submit petitions to the Clerk of the Board is April 18.