Budget proposal stays within tax cap; Program enhancements support future-ready learning initiatives

On Tuesday, May 15, residents of the Canajoharie Central School District will vote on a proposed $22.78 million budget for the 2018-19 school year. The proposed budget maintains all current programs and services, and reflects a 4.09 percent year-to-year spending increase with a tax levy increase of 2 percent. 

The tax levy limit or “cap” for Canajoharie next year is 4.35 percent. Because the proposed 2 percent tax levy increase is below the cap, the budget will require a simple majority of votes for approval (more than 50 percent). 

District leaders’ goal for the 2018-19 proposed budget was to balance fiscal responsibility to taxpayers with ensuring the academic program supports the district’s new vision statement — Every Learner, Together, World Ready.

“The district gives careful consideration to all expenditures to ensure our resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Superintendent Deborah Grimshaw said. “We strive to ensure that every learner is successful — whatever their path may be — and ready to productively engage in a rapidly changing world.”

Future-ready learning

Savings generated by strategic efficiencies, a $248,000 decrease in debt service and an approximate $125,000 increase in state aid will allow the district to enhance its academic program in accordance with the new vision statement, while keeping the tax increase below the tax cap. 

One way the 2018-19 budget proposal puts this vision into action is with the creation of a full-time K-12 technology integration specialist position that will also serve as the grades 7-8 library media specialist. The position will support Canajoharie in the implementation of its Smart Schools Investment Plan (SSIP). The first phase of the SSIP calls for a 1:1 computing initiative that will put a digital device in each student’s hands, and new interactive flat panel boards in classrooms. The SSIP is funded by the New York state Smart Schools Bond Act, with no impact on the district’s tax levy.

The technology integration specialist position would support teachers and students in successful integration of 1:1 devices as daily learning tools. Additionally, this individual would teach library skills in grades 7-8, ensuring students will receive information literacy instruction continuously from kindergarten through 12th grade. 

New initiatives in the budget proposal also include:

  • Keyboard/typing instruction at elementary level;

  • Expansion of a part-time art teacher position to full-time, with expanded offerings for students, such as an art history course;

  • Allocations for AP exam costs;

  • After-school busing so students can seek academic support and participate in extracurricular activities;

  • Transportation allocation for clubs/extracurricular activities, and

  • Expansion an account clerk/typist position to support the increased demands of payroll and benefits.

Budget reflects capital project, outlay project payments

The majority of the year-to-year spending increase in the proposed budget accounts a transfer of $901,917 that will be put into a reserve fund to pay for the ongoing capital project. 

The first phase of the project includes the resurfacing of the track. If everything goes according to the plan, renovations would start this summer. 

The proposed budget also reflects the first-time allocation of money for a capital outlay project. Capital outlay projects are smaller (up to $100,000 per year) projects that districts receive state aid for the following year. This year’s capital outlay project will be used for exterior door replacement at East Hill Elementary School.

Public invited to budget hearing

Community members are invited to learn more about the proposed spending plan at the district’s budget hearing on Monday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. An informational brochure will be mailed to all households in early May.