Facing deep cuts, G’town hones school budget

GERMANTOWN–The Board of Education held its monthly meeting April 17, and the main topic was the school budget proposal for the 2019-20 school year.

The meeting was the fourth and final presentation on the proposed budget of $15,597,618. With anticipated revenue of $14,797,018 the district will use $800,600 from the fund balance to balance the budget.

The budget summary issued by the board says, “This spending plan is the product of an extensive examination of all the previous years’ expenses an anticipated needs of our students in 2019-20.”

The total tax levy will rise by 4.42% over the current year but will adhere to the state cap because of “coming school year exemptions,” according to the budget summary.

Factors driving the budget include the end of the Pre-K grant from the state, a loss to the district of $170,000. The district has decided to continue the program. There will also be a 38% increase for related services for special needs students, higher costs for transportation for spring sports and a significant increase in employee and retiree health benefits costs.

Several parents at the meeting expressed disapproval of the board’s plan to eliminate several programs that had been offered to high school students in the current year. The students accepted into these programs will now be choosing a different subject or none at all.

The spending plan contains costs by limiting outside programs due to the cost of tuition and transportation. Those programs include Tech Valley High, Bard ECHS (early college) and the Heavy Equipment CTE class. The Bard program and the heavy equipment were the primary concerns for the parents who spoke. For the board, with such a tight budget, the Bard expense at $10,183 per student and the increase price in transportation for the heavy equipment program that runs two years were the main concerns. Several parents said that one of the reasons they had chosen to live in the Germantown Central School District was because of the Bard College courses.

After much discussion, Superintendent Susan Brown and school board members agreed to make concessions. The Bard program will be offered to two seniors instead of the five that were accepted and one student for the heavy equipment.

A public hearing on the proposed budget for the 2019-20 is scheduled for Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at 6 p.m. in the elementary music room.

The vote on the budget is set for Tuesday, May 21 from noon to 9 p.m.

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