More state aid means lower tax rate for ICC

KINDERHOOK–Ichabod Crane School District Superintendent George Zini presented the revised $35-million budget for the 2014-15 school year to the board and the community at a special meeting Tuesday night. He explained how the district would be using an extra $403,502 in state aid to lower the tax levy and close a gap in the budget.

The board adopted the tentative budget at the April 8 meeting.

Mr. Zini said in reviewing numbers from the state budget passed a week ago, the district saw an increase in the amount of aid compared to the governor’s executive budget proposal released earlier this year. Separately the district received $186,000 as the result of a health insurance refund. With the increase in state aid, Mr. Zini said that besides lowering the tax levy increase from 2.16% to 2%, the funds will be used to add a reading teacher in the primary school as well as adding two recess monitors, increasing the hours for one high school science teacher and an elementary school music teacher, adding a late bus run that was cut, and increasing money for field trips and general supplies for teachers.

As for the one-time funds, Mr. Zini said those would be used for one time upgrade projects like repairs to the school water lines. Earlier this year, students were sent home early due to a water main break. Mr. Zini said that making simple upgrades will mean that if a village water main breaks again, school will not have to close. He said the district also plans to use the money to replace window shades and blinds in the high school and middle school.

Of the list of upgrades that can be added to the proposed budget, Mr. Zini said, “It’s a significant improvement here.” Though he praised the proposal, which doesn’t have any cuts, he did say, “There is always more need than there is money.”

Along with the budget on the May 20 school district ballot will be four propositions that require voter approval in addition to the budget. Proposition Number 2 asks for $372,500 to purchase five new buses. There will also be a proposition for a $2.3 million capital improvement project that will use money from reserves and state building aid so it will not affect the school budget. Mr. Zini stressed that the project will have “no impact on your taxes.” The project includes adding four classrooms to the overcrowded primary school and security upgrades at all the school buildings.

Proposition Number 4 would add a student as a non-voting member of the School Board starting in the 2014-15 school year. There will also be a proposition to get rid of registration day in the district. If the proposition passes, residents who want to register to vote in the school elections will be able to do so at the Central Office during school hours.

Voting on May 20 will not be in the high school gym but in the auditorium. The district is completing a project approved last year that includes upgrades to the gym and locker rooms. The gym will be out of use from May until late September. High School students will have physical education classes outside, said Mr. Zini.

The handful of residents who attended the budget meeting praised the lowered the tax levy increase. One resident asked about adding pre-K. Mr. Zini said that most of that money for pre-K in the state budget is going to the big cities in the state.

“Right now we don’t have room,” he said, and expressed hope that if money for universal pre-K does come from the state it comes with funds for construction projects to house the classes. He also said that the district’s Strategic Plan Committee is looking into having pre-K in the district but that plan is “two years out.” Right now Questar III runs a pre-K class at the high school.

The district’s budget hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 13 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. There is also a meet-the-board-candidates event scheduled for 7:30 p.m. that night. There are three seats open on the board and candidate petitions are available from the District Clerk.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .



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