Dear Community Members,
Our Board has adopted a budget that continues all current programs — instructional and extracurricular — for our students. It provides for the infusion of unallocated fund balance to cover our $3.4 million dollar deficit, and sets a tax levy of 2%. Our permissible tax levy — based on the SED formula — is actually 4.036%, but, our Board has over the past months expressed very clearly that it is the goal of the district to maintain the lowest possible tax impact on families while continuing programs and academic opportunities for students. The combination of a 2% tax levy and fund balance dollars for the coming year accomplishes that goal.
We are a district that is making very steady progress in helping our students reach NYS goals for academic performance. We have aligned our courses to the new Common Core and provide extensive staff support and development opportunities for our teachers so that our students can best benefit. We collaborate with neighboring districts and government groups to share expenses and services wherever possible — and practical — and will continue to seek new opportunities to do so. We have developed programs of alternative learning for our most at risk students with neighboring districts and also make full use of distance learning and on-line course opportunities for our secondary students. I am pleased to report that we are fully ready for on line state education assessments which will be rolled out in New York next year, and our students will be able to benefit from the technology plans that were developed and implemented in anticipation of this testing.
We are all keenly aware that there is a finite number of dollars to share among government bodies and I am pleased that we are slated to receive more dollars in the approved legislative budget than originally projected by the Governor, and also pleased that there is serious conversation in Albany about funding reform and how to best support our schools financially.
The use of fund balance annually will drain our reserves and place us in the very vulnerable position of fiscal insolvency unless there is both mandate relief, restructuring of school finance, or an increase in local tax levies — the later clearly, from our district perspective, the least desirable method to fund our school needs.
When you vote May 21st, you will be asked to approve a total budget of $39,353,968 reflecting both the property tax levy of 2%, state and federal aid, and the use of a portion of our fund balance, $2,576,205, — our district "savings account". The budget supports existing programs and increases in fixed costs — instructional salaries, pension, health benefits, utilities.
On May 21st you will again find our Ice Cream Sundae sale — sponsored by the Ambassador Club and CES Student Council — available when you come to vote, and, the Class of 2014 will host the Second Annual Sausage and Pepper sale. We look forward to seeing you on the 21st and at all our school events this spring — and, of course, at the June 22nd Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2013!
Kathleen Farrell, Ph.D.
Dr. Kathleen P. Farrell - Superintendent : email
343 West Main Street
Catskill, New York 12414
Telephone (518) 943-4696