School budgets up for vote Tuesday
New York is pouring additional money into its schools — but that doesn’t mean schools aren’t asking for increases in local funding too.
The state budget approved in April includes $31.5 billion in total school aid for 2023, the highest level of state aid ever and an increase of $2.1 billion, or 7.2% compared to 2022, including a $1.5 billion or 7.7% Foundation Aid increase, representing the second year of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s three-year commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid.
That increase in state aid is helping keep the tax levies of most local school budgets in check. Budgets proposed, according to information submitted to the state Comptroller’s Office, includes:
¯ Bemus Point: a 2.89% increase in the district’s tax levy to $9,316,717. The district’s budget is slated to increase from $15,588,352 to $16,084,938. Voters will also have a proposition to purchase two replacement school buses at a cost of $300,000.
Megan Kent and Lauren Ryan are running unopposed for two, three-year terms on the Board of Education.
¯ Brocton: a 1.09% decrease in the tax levy on a budget that increases spending 1.65% from 17,837,480 to $18,132,136. There are two seats open for the Board of Education.
¯ Cassadaga Valley: a 3.22% tax levy increase is proposed on a budget that increases spending .77% to $24,903,368. Voters will also have a proposition on the ballot to purchase three 60-40 passenger school buses and related equipment at a cost of $385,355, a resolution establishing a Capital Improvement Reserve Fund and a $10.3 million building project. The building project includes classroom renovations, improved ventilation, mechanical upgrades, a new roof, elevator improvements, renovations to the art and music rooms, ramp and sidewalk improvements and softball and baseball field improvements at the middle/high school building. Sinclairville Elementary School work would include a new playground, classroom renovations, creek stabilization, a pole barn for storage and mechanical system upgrades. Matthew Miller is running unopposed for the Board of Education.
¯ Chautauqua Lake: Chautauqua Lake Central School is proposing a 0.06% decrease in spending in its $23,585,665 budget proposal with a 0.38% increase in the district’s tax levy proposed. Proposition 2 for capital reserve will enable the district to allocate funds to address future capital improvement projects that are not fully funded in the district’s annual operating budget. The reserve funding cannot exceed $7 million. Proposition 3 for repair reserve will enable the district to address public safety concerns on campus by allocating funds for unexpected facility repairs, equipment failure, and infrastructure replacement. The proposition states that unassigned general fund balance from 2021-22 can be transferred with a maximum amount of $750,000. There are also three candidates running for two seats for the board of education. Running are Kenneth Shearer Jr., Mary Lee Talbot, and Andrea Munsee-Wellman. Shearer and Munsee-Wellman currently serve on the school board, while Talbot has served in the past.
¯ Dunkirk: a 1.91% increase in spending to $52,396,017 with a 1.99% increase in the tax levy to $5,856,811.
¯ Falconer: no tax levy increase is proposed in a budget that also calls for no spending increase from the district’s $7,133,890 budget in 2021-22. Tom Frederes and Robert Carpenter are running unopposed for the school board.
¯ Forestville: a 3.44% tax increase is proposed for a budget that is proposed to increase spending 3.68% from $13,028,780 to $13,508,760. Taxpayers also will have a proposition for an $8,475,000 capital project to replace building roofs, heaters, replace boilers, upgrade parking lots, make interior and exterior renovations, make energy savings improvements and a proposition to buy one 24-passenger wheelchair bus for $79,041 and a 30-passenger school bus for $63,536.
¯ Fredonia: a 2.03% increase in spending to $31,930,024 that comes with a 1% tax levy increase. There are two seats available on the school board, with candidates Steve Johnston and Sheila Starkey Hahn running unopposed.
¯ Frewsburg: a 2.72% property tax levy increase is proposed on a budget that increases spending 8.16% to $20,534,750. The district will also be asking voters for approval to purchase three diesel-powered buses at a maximum cost of $360,000. The district will receive 75% to 80% in state aid for the buses.
¯ Gowanda: a 0.33% increase in spending to $34,210,405 that asks for a property tax levy increase of 1.85% to $5,253,417. Voters will also have a proposition to buy one 30-passenger school bus at an estimated maximum cost of $59,893.07 and two 66-passenger school buses at an combined maximum cost of $252,411.62. Voters will also have a proposal on the ballot to increase tax collections for the Gowanda Free Library from $50,000 a year to $58,000 a year. There are three candidates running for three positions on the Board of Education: John Y. Waterman Jr., Barbara Weston and Shauna McMahon
¯ North Collins: a 3.12% increase in spending to $16,773,821 increases taxes 1.44% to $5,757,938. Voters will also vote on a $7.95 million capital improvement project that includes a new turf field, renovation of the district’s athletic vestibule, athletic field lighting, student locker replacement, elementary school entrance renovation, new roofs and digital signs at both buildings.
¯ Panama: no tax levy increase is proposed as part of the budget, which increases spending 4.55% to $13,522,638. There are two open seats on the Board of Education.
¯ Pine Valley: a 7.05% increase in spending to $17,597,214 is proposed with no change in the district’s $3,410,344 tax levy. There are three positions open on the Board of Education, with Josh Howard, William Pekrul and Larry Zollinger running unopposed.
¯ Randolph: a 2.2% increase in the tax levy to $4,777,911 for a budget that increases spending 2.1% to $20,930,008. There are three positions open for the school board, with incumbents Kyle Brown, Daniel Jackson and Julie Milliman running unopposed.
¯ Ripley: a 1.15% decrease in spending to $9,634,122 while the district’s tax levy is proposed to increase 0.04% to $1,863,681.
¯ Sherman: the tax levy is proposed to increase 1.77% while spending is projected to increase 5.06% to $11,176,500. There are three candidates — Kristin Irwin, Colleen Meeder and Travis Weise — running for one seat on the school board.
¯ Silver Creek: the budget is projected to increase 5.95% to $27,469,891, though the district’s proposed tax levy is to increase 1.95% to $6,344,616. Voters will have three non-budget propositions on the ballot. Proposition 2 proposes to purchase two 66-passenger buses at a total cost of $237,692 paid for from the district’s capital reserve for vehicles. Proposition 3 would establish a new capital reserve fund for capital improvements, with the fund not to exceed $8 million. Proposition 4 would establish a new capital reserve fund for vehicles not to exceed $2 million. There is one open seat on the Board of Education, with Joel Blasdell and Michael Grisanti, an incumbent board member, running.
¯ Southwestern: taxes are proposed to increase 2% to $13,789,846 while spending is projected to decrease 2.38% to $30,898,841.The board has two vacancies to be filled, with candidates including Brendan Carter, Dr. Elizabeth Laczi and Correy Miller. Voters will also vote on Proposition 2 to purchase two 65-passenger school buses for $147,506, a 66-passenger bus for $147,506, and a 32-passenger special needs bus for $156,145.
¯ Westfield: a 0.98% increase in spending for the $17,122,216 budget would include a tax levy increase of 0.91% to $6,231,950.