GERMANTOWN—After a two-hour public meeting February 12, and more than an hour in executive session, the Board of Education of the Germantown Central School District returned to public session and unanimously ratified a memorandum of agreement with the Germantown Administrative Association, which represents the district’s administrators. Board members went home at 10 p.m
Further information about the agreement was not available at press time, but it marks the first step in concluding negotiations with the district’s employees.
In other business, the board:
•Set Wednesday, February 26 at 6 p.m. for a Public Hearing in the school cafetorium on an Alternative Veterans’ Exemption on school property taxes, followed by a budget workshop. March 1 is the deadline for the board to vote on the exemption, which would take effect as of the January 1, 2014 tax rolls
•Heard a PowerPoint presentation from Superintendent Susan Brown on the operational, transportation and general support portions of the 2014-15 district budget proposal. This presentation is available on the district website, germantowncsd.org.
Ms. Brown is using a new model for the budget breakdowns, said board president Eric Mortenson after the meeting. He said the new model makes much clearer “where the money goes, rather than just throwing out numbers with line items.”
One drawback to the model is that it may be “more difficult to compare to previous years,” he said, but he added, “any lay person can understand this year’s budget. We encourage everyone to come to the budget workshops, where Ms. Brown fully explains each category with more detail”
•Changed the April 9 Board of Education meeting to Tuesday, April 8, due to the conflict with the Questar III annual meeting
•Set Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. for a meeting between the board and the community Facilities Committees for an update from the community committee
•After a presentation from senior class representatives Carrigan Buhler and Devin Overington, approved the Class of 2014 trip to Virginia Beach, VA
•Designated the February 13-March 1 China trip, under the supervision of high school principal Karol Harlow and Susan Raab, as a school-sponsored trip
•Agreed that board President Mortenson and vice-president Ronald E. Moore II would represent the district on the revived Columbia County Group for Superintendents and Board of Education members. The goal is to meet quarterly to share information
•Heard Mr. Mortenson read a statement regarding the state Audit Report of the district. “This new board of education and its new superintendent of schools welcome the guidance from the State Audit Team,” he said, “and we are committed to a plan of fiscal accountability to the community as we enter the upcoming budget season.” The district’s response letter to the audit presented the major features of a Corrective Action Plan that should remediate head-on the criticism of past budgeting practices, he said. The letter is on the website and available through the Business Office.
“Thankfully, the District does not face fiscal stress, and our commitment to a moderate approach to budgeting should assure years of high-quality programs for district students,” said Mr. Mortenson. He further stated that the board is moving forward and at this time will not point fingers at anyone for mistakes made in the past.