Proposed budget includes reduction in tax levy, adds academic program

On Tuesday, May 16, Berne-Knox-Westerlo residents will vote on a $22,657,493 budget for the 2017-18 school year.

The proposed budget includes a spending increase of $65,253 from the 2016-17 budget and carries a projected reduction in the tax levy of 0.5 percent.

“Over the past few months, with the help of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, we had built a balanced budget based on the Governor’s school aid proposal,” said Superintendent Dr. Timothy Mundell, noting that previous iterations of the budget carried a zero percent tax levy increase.

“When the legislature and Governor finally delivered a late budget that increased funding for BKW, we thought it prudent and appropriate to use some of that to decrease the tax burden on our community.”

The tax reduction will be approximately 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $10 for a home assessed at $100,000. This continues a trend of relying less on our local taxpayers for school funding. The tax levy as a proportion of the total budget for the 2017-18 school budget would be 48 percent, down from 54 percent in 2013-14.

If voters approve the budget, spending would increase 0.29 percent next year.

Despite tax reduction, opportunities still growing

The budget and an associated financial plan that Superintendent Dr. Timothy Mundell has outlined over the past few months maintains educational programs, and includes the addition of agricultural science, student supports, and STEM opportunities such as:

  • Add .6 Agricultural Science position
  • K-9 reading program
  • Continue support for Inclusive model in Special Ed.
  • Continue support for Alt. Ed. sections
  • Revise Secondary master schedule to a 9 period day
  • Expand course offerings in Agricultural Science
  • Add FFA club and two elementary clubs
  • Add a 2-week summer program-“STEAM Camp”
  • Add Winter Track as interscholastic sport

“While this is a baseline budget with a baseline tax levy, it still focuses on the future of BKW’s students,” said Dr. Mundell. “The keys to BKW’s future are its financial stability, academic direction, and the condition of its facilities. This budget is responsible to students and taxpayers alike, and keeps the district’s focus on improving student achievement.”

Also on the ballot

Residents will also vote on a bus proposition to purchase school buses at a cost not to exceed $257,536. To make the purchase, the district would use $100,000 from its Transportation Reserve Fund and finance at most $157,536 with a five-year bond.

Voters will also elect three candidates to the school board: two three-year terms (commencing 7/1/2017 and ending 6/30/2020), and one two-year term (commencing 5/17/2017 and ending 6/30/2019).

Voting takes place on Tuesday, May 16. Polls are open in the secondary school auditorium from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Votes will be counted after that time and immediately announced on the district’s website,, via School News Notifier email, and on the district’s social media accounts.

The Board of Education is scheduled to adopt the 2017-18 school budget on April 10. The school budget vote and board elections will be held on Tuesday, May 16, from 6 .a.m. to 9 p.m.