Pine Valley trims ‘fat’ off budget, lowers spending by $1 million from last year

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew David Kuczkowski Pine Valley Assistant Business Executive Jamie Rodgers discusses the $15.8 million proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year during a public hearing on Thursday.

SOUTH DAYTON — A zero-percent tax levy and reduced spending of around $1 million headline the 2018-19 proposed $15,833,644 budget from the Pine Valley Board of Education.

Pine Valley Superintendent Scott Payne stressed during the public hearing Thursday that the board was taking a keen look at the expense numbers. He stated that the decreased enrollment and a future “cliff” that the school was facing financially headed the push to become more efficient. The district is sharing resources for their cook manager and looking into other budget line items that can be adapted to a slimmer cost to the taxpayers.

“We’ve spent the last year-and-a-half to two years looking at our budget and our process to streamline it a bit and look at what’s responsible,” Payne said. “We did a line-by-line analysis of five years of our budget to see, ‘Where are there areas that we are funding and not using those resources?'”

The district began this year’s budget look in October. Payne elaborated that the district didn’t want to roll over 2017-18’s budget, add 3 percent and raise taxes. The board set a goal to not only have their expenses done before Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave out the funding numbers to the school, but before Jan. 1.

With the early deadline, the district has more time to trim the “fat,” as Payne called it, and the find the best use of funds for Pine Valley students. That fat became lean meat as 2017-18’s $16.3 million budget was cut to $15.8.

“We have saved nearly a million dollars between last year’s expenditure budget and this year’s expenditure budget,” Payne said.

The reason why it’s not exactly $1 million less, but instead $500,000, is because the district applied funds towards a BOCES capital project (which all participating schools would pay, but over a longer period) and into the debt service. Payne stated that Pine Valley also will have enhanced STEM and STEAM programs.

The district revamped its courses that it offers. The goal was to offer the needs to the students and preparing them for beyond high school.

“Our kids across the (district) that will allow them to be relevant in career or in college and beyond,” Payne said.

There will be two propositions outside of the vote that are: the purchase of various school buses not to exceed $315,000 that will be funded by a reserve; the purchase of snow removal equipment that will not exceed $100,000 that will be funded by a reserve; and to establish a capital reserve that may hold up to $1 million and gather funds for 10 years.

The board will have three positions available and four candidates. Sherry Gruszynski, Shawn Howard, Justin Smith and Darlene Silleman are running for the three spots on the board.