On Tuesday, May 18, Canajoharie Central School District residents will head to the polls to vote on a proposed $23,125,725 budget for 2021-22. This budget represents a spending increase of 2.28 percent, and carries 0 percent property tax levy increase. Since the 0 percent tax levy increase falls below the district’s legal limit of 8.33 percent as defined by the state’s tax cap legislation, a simple majority (50 percent plus one) is needed to approve the budget.
While developing the budget, district leaders focused on maintaining and enhancing programs while being mindful of the impact to the taxpayers. The district received an increase in state aid along with Federal stimulus funds, which district leaders plan to use to create opportunities for students and to position the district financially.
“Due to the requirements with the American Rescue Plan Act stimulus package, we will be offering remediation programs over the next few years that will help our students who may have struggled during the pandemic both academically and socially,” said Superintendent Dr. Nick Fitzgerald.
“We will be offering academic intervention services at each level, helping increase the usage and efficiency with our I-Ready program, after-school tutoring, and creating additional course sections in certain areas to lower class sizes. We also want to create a more robust summer school enrichment program and increase counseling services at each level.”
The district must submit a full plan by July 1 on how it will use the federal funding.
Dr. Fitzgerald said the remaining funds would be used to help offset the costs the district incurred while ensuring students could attend school daily, and to financially secure the district for the future so hopefully tax increases can be kept to a minimum.
“One of the main responsibilities of the board and the superintendent is to keep the district financially solvent,” he said. “In order to keep our schools open during the pandemic, we had increased costs associated with hiring teacher aides, substitute teachers and staff, maintenance staff, supplies and equipment, and transportation.”
The increase to the budget can be mainly attributed to annual contractual obligations, health insurance, and special education costs.
Voters will also elect one BOE member, and decide on a bus proposition to lease three 70-passenger school buses at an annual cost not to exceed $19,775 each. There will also be propositions to establish a capital bus reserve fund, and an equipment reserve fund.
“We want to establish an equipment reserve for items such as trucks, lawnmowers, larger equipment purchases, and furniture, which will be used instead of infusing expenses into our yearly budgets. By establishing this account, we can pull funds when needed instead of worrying about including it in our budget line items,” Dr. Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said the district will also allocate funds to the employee retirement system reserve to offset annual charges, and build upon the capital project reserve so it can offer a larger building project without impacting taxpayers.
“Finally, we updated our capital bus reserve fund since the required 10 years will expire this June. This reserve is used to fund the bus lease payments each year, and has no impact on the budget. The funds are deposited from the reimbursement we receive from the state each year, and the
total of the reserve must reflect the sum of all deposits over 10 years,” he said.
“Part of being fiscally responsible is to ensure that our buildings, equipment, budget, and programs will be maintained and updated before emergencies occur.”
♦ Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, in the East Hill library. Parking will be limited during dismissal from 2:15-3 p.m. ♦