Sunday, March 12, 2017

Budget Season...

Last week, the Board of Education met for several hours to sift through and discuss the proposed budget as we prepare for the May school budget vote. As you may have seen in the paper, the Board is discussing many options to provide a balanced proposed budget. I want to emphasize the word proposed budget as a lot can change at this point in time. On the table to be removed from the current operating year include the current utilization of the Tutorial Center for suspended students, pre-k transportation, and some additional requested positions in the area of Special Education and support services. Along with this, the Board has agreed to allow for a 1% increase in the tax levy to help balance the current proposed budget. Throughout the budget, we have removed a lot of funds allocated to "things" such as supplies and materials since I have frequently stated that we value people over things. As with many organizations, we can operate differently and better if and only if we have the people to provide the support for our kids. Another adjustment to the budget for next year is a lot of money removed from overtime costs and substitute costs. These are both management areas where we can do better as leaders. As with any budget, we have allocated the same portion of fund balance that we have been allocating in past years ($6.5 million). This is money that is there to help balance the budget and be used if needed. For the current fiscal year, we are projecting a $1.4 million deficit; however, are also awaiting $1 million in reimbursements from the County and another $600,000 in building aid from the Joy project. If those monies arrive, then we will have a slight surplus for 2016-2017. That right there is the perfect example of the challenge with public school budgeting, everything is always a projection. There are no certainties on the revenue side and as you probably know, health care cost projections for the future are not favorable. Some things that affect the budget from now until the vote include the Governor's State budget and foundation aid allocations, the approved tax levy (increase or decrease), and possible retirements. Our official budget adoption and presentation meeting is scheduled for April 6, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the District Office.

RFA Announces Top 10! 

Congratulations to the Rome Free Academy Class of 2017 Top Ten!! While all students have spent the past 3 1/2 years working diligently toward graduation; Thomas Weir (valedictorian), Julia Rizzo (salutatorian), Kristi Boardman, Christopher Copeland, Bella Esposito, Mira Esposito, Emma Gilroy, William Linderman, Zuzanna Pociecha, and Tyler Schoff have found a way to rise to the top. These students embody the meaning of perseverance, determination, and dedication. Our entire community is grateful for the work that they have accomplished and for the future work they are going to perform as graduates of Rome Free Academy. Congratulations again, to our Top Ten!! 

Redistricting Presentation

On Thursday, March 16, I will be presenting a redistricting plan to the Board of Education at their regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the RFA cafeteria. The presentation will follow the grades 5-12 Character Initiative Awards and will include a presentation to Board and the public. At the conclusion of the presentation, there will be a question and answer session for members of the Board. Depending on the outcome of this meeting, we will determine the next steps of the process. 

Albany Update

I had an opportunity to spend 3 days in Albany last weekend meeting with various BOCES Superintendents, District Superintendents, Assemblymen and women, and Senators regarding the upcoming Governor's budget and subsequent school budget season. While many feel that we can expect additional foundation aid above the Governor's initial projections, there is not much optimism surrounding other initiatives. Some of the other initiatives that are being discussed that have an impact on schools include the extension of the Millionaires Tax, adjustment to BOCES aid cap, adjustment to the tax cap formula, Governor control of mid-year budgetary adjustments, and the elimination of APPR. Hopefully, we will see an on-time budget from the State so that we can continue to move forward with our budget planning.