School district OKs tax breaks for vets

GERMANTOWN—At a February 26 special meeting, the Board of Education of the Germantown Central School District unanimously approved the Alternative Veterans Exemption.

The exemption starts with the January 1, 2014 tax rolls. It allows a 15% reduction in assessed value to veterans who served during a time of war; an additional 10% reduction in assessed value to veterans who served in combat zones (including recipients of expeditionary medals) and an additional reduction in assessed value to veterans who incur service-connected disabilities, equal to half of their service-connected disability ratings (regardless of whether they served in combat zones).

The percentage-level benefits are subject to maximum dollar limits set by each taxing jurisdiction. In the GCSD this is $6,000 for the basic exemption, $8,000 for the combat zone exemption and $20,000 for the disabled exemption.

Prior to its vote, the board held a Public Hearing on the change. “It was more like an open discussion” between board members and those who usually attend school board meetings, than a formal hearing, reported board President Eric Mortenson.

In other business Superintendent Susan Brown presented the six proposals for the instructional program of the district’s 2014-15 budget. The proposals are first, to hire a high school social studies teacher, preferably with English certification, in order to provide a third section of social studies for the 7th grade, the second largest class in the school, with 56 students. (The largest class is the 3rd grade, with 71 students.).

Second, the district would fulfill a state requirement by hiring a library media specialist. The specialist’s focus area would be technology, so that the district had an in-house person with this expertise.

Third, reorganize the administration into three instructional leadership teams, one each for the k to 6 years, 7th to 12th grades and special education.

Fourth, provide teachers and staff with high-quality embedded professional development with a variety of goals, including the successful transition to the state Common Core learning standards.

Fifth, provide early intervention to students, specifically by increasing speech and language improvement instruction from one to two days a week and by designing and implementing a full-day pre-kindergarten pilot program.

Sixth, improve the district’s technology offerings for students. This includes laptop computers for high school students, laptops or tablets for elementary school students and eliminating outdated technology.

The board held an executive session of about 20 minutes to discuss collective bargaining negotiations with the Germantown Teachers’ Association and the Germantown Administrators’ Association. No announcement was made regarding those negotiations when the board returned to the public meeting.

Budget discussion continues with the Wednesday, March 12 board meeting. Scheduled topics are 2014-15 debt service, employee benefits, instructional and special education budget, and BOCES programming. Ms. Brown’s digital slide presentations on the budget can be found on the district’s website,




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