Ripley school officials discuss proposed budget

Photo by David Prenatt. Ripley Superintendent Bill Caldwell presents the proposed 2019-20 budget for the school district.

RIPLEY — A public hearing on the Ripley Central School District 2019-2020 proposed budget was held recently in the school’s IRLA Library.

The board of education appointed board president Paul McCutcheon as chairperson of the meeting and district clerk Victoria Carris as clerk of the meeting.

District Superintendent William Caldwell presented the budget with the assistance of business manager, Laura Napoli.

Highlights of the tentative budget include a decrease of more than $450,000 in total regular instruction; an increase of $179,646 in total special education; an increase of $98,571 in categorical instruction; an increase of $58,981 in total psychological services; and an increase of $35,000 in community service.

Caldwell emphasized that almost $7 million of the district’s proposed $9 million budget comes from state aid. The district has actually received a $164,999 increase in state aid, he said.

Caldwell said the large decrease in total regular instruction is due not only to the retirement of a teacher who is not being replaced, but also to moving other line items to other places in the budget. “Unfortunately, that means some parts of the budget are going up,” Caldwell said. “We are saving some because of retirement but definitely not the $450,000 shown here.”

Caldwell said the increase in the budget is driven largely by BOCES costs because more Ripley students are going there. BOCES Special Education Services have gone up $115,605, which is a 25.8% increase. Also, BOCES Occupational Ed has gone up $46,650, which is a 31.8% increase.

Caldwell also noted that the proposed budget shows an increase of $19,058 in a transfer to the cafeteria, which represents a 63.5% increase. This is necessary to cover operating costs, he said, but some of that money will come back to Ripley from BOCES.

Caldwell also said that Ripley Central School is likely to qualify as a free lunch for all school next year. “It looks like we are going to qualify for free lunch and breakfast for all next year,” Caldwell said. “We got more families to fill out the applications so we can participate in the free-lunch-for-all program.”

Caldwell said reimbursements are based on the number of meals served. The more students that eat breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, the more supplements a school can receive, he said. “With the free-lunch-for-all program, we still have to track which students would qualify,” Napoli added.

The tentative budget includes a tractor for snowplowing and new fitness center equipment. Caldwell said much of the fitness center equipment is beyond repair and the cost of the new equipment is reflected in the increase of $35,000 in community service. If the proposed budget is not accepted, all equipment purchases, as well as the tractor and the fitness center equipment will be eliminated.

Caldwell said that the proposed budget of $9,399,854, reflects an increase of $218,694 and requires only a $26, 532 tax increase, which is approximately a 1.4% increase in the tax levy. “This is about 31-cents per thousand increase,” he said.

In all, Caldwell said residents will be asked to vote on three resolutions: the budget, replacing one small bus and one large bus, and setting the parameter from where the district will bus students at a 1/2 mile radius. He reminded those present that over 90% of the cost of the buses comes back to the district from the state.

McCutcheon said he intended to encourage those who attended the public hearing, to vote on May 21 from 2 to 8 p.m. in room 125 (art room). He was unable to encourage the citizens of the district to vote since none were present at the public hearing.