G’town faces school budget uncertainty

GERMANTOWN—Tuesday, May 19 residents across New York State will vote on their school district’s budget and elect Board of Education members.

In the Germantown Central School District, the four-year terms of Brittany DuFresne and board president Ronald E. Moore II end this June.

Asked Tuesday if they plan to run for another term, Mr. Moore said he was “undecided. I’m certainly considering running again; I haven’t ruled it out.”

Ms. DuFresne said, “I am not. I’m involved in other things that I’d like to spend more time on,” including her two small children and volunteer work for the Germantown Parks Commission.

Ms. DuFresne, a Germantown graduate, taught third grade at the school for a year and a half, until her position was cut. Now she’s “seen the other side of the table.” And “for me, it was a hard four years,” she said of her term, which included difficult board decisions on cutting teaching positions, the discovery of $2.5 million set aside for no specific purpose, the search for a new superintendent and months of developing a capital project, only to see it go down by 33 votes.

Having served on the board, “now I can feel comfortable sitting in the audience and speaking my mind,” said Ms. DuFresne. “And I may come back” to the board, she said.

In the meantime, “a lot of people out there have ideas,” she said, “and I’m urging them” to run. As of Tuesday, however, district clerk Linda Anderson said no one had picked up the necessary petition to get on the ballot.

At the March 11 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Susan Brown presented the proposed 2015-16 district budget. The recommended expenses totaled $14,440,850, which is $597,250 more than the total budgeted for 2014-15 (final figures are not yet in) and just over $1 million more than the $13,408,835 spent in 2013-14.

Total revenues and other sources add up to $13,089,012, less than the anticipated revenue for 2014-15 ($13,124,483) and the revenue earned in 2013-14 ($13,435,683). The gap for 2015-16 is $1,351,838.

The governor’s budget may include an increase in aid to schools, said Ms. Brown, but right now the district is looking at flat state aid.

The state could eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) and restore foundation aid, Ms. Brown said. The GEA reduces state allocations to schools. The GCSD has lost $2.1 million in foundation aid over the past four years (2010-14), she said.

The board is faced with the decision of using unappropriated fund balance to stay within the Tax Levy Limit. About $2 million is available, and as of March 11, said Ms. Brown, the district would have to use $1,351,838, the entire amount of the gap.

The detailed budget can be found on the district’s website, germantowncsd.org. Click on “District” and “Budget / Finance.”

In other business:

  • The board changed the date of the April meeting to Wednesday, April 15, in order not to conflict with spring break. Start time is the usual 6:30 p.m.
  • Board members discussed with each other and the audience the March 10 Capital Project vote and an exit poll report. Finding that further discussion was needed, the board scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, March 24 at 6 p.m.

Reached after that meeting, Mr. Moore said that no decision had been made about putting a capital project before the voters again, but “the direction we’re heading in” is to split the capital project into two proposals. David Sammel, district architect, was charged with developing the two proposals, with financial figures, for discussion at the April 15 board meeting.




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