Voters approve 2016-17 budget, elect three BOE members
On May 17, Marcellus Central School District voters approved the district’s $33.4 million 2016-17 budget proposal and elected three Board of Education members.
Approved a $33,401,273 budget for the 2016-17 school year that increases spending 3.56 percent ($1,147,684), and carries a 1.99 percent tax levy increase: 573 yes, 257 no.
Approved the purchase of four school buses at a cost not to exceed $444,932: 582 yes, 248 no.
Re-elected three members of the Board of Education: Janine Lundrigan (653 votes), Ryan Riefler (656 votes) and Thomas West (632 votes). They will serve three-year terms starting July 1.
Approved an annual budget increase of $9,864 for Marcellus Free Library: 589 yes, 240 no.
“Thank you to everyone who made time in their busy schedules to vote today,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Judith C. Pastel said. “I’m delighted that incoming Superintendent Michelle Brantner can begin here on July 1 with a fiscally responsible plan that preserves and enhances the quality academic program residents have come to expect from Marcellus schools.”
The 2016-17 tax levy increase of 1.99 percent was the largest increase the district could have passed with approval from a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of voters, per the state’s property tax levy limit law. The law requires each school district to calculate its own levy limit based on a complex, multi-step formula. Any increase above this limit would have required approval of a supermajority, or at least 60 percent of voters.
Administrators reduced the tax levy increase – or the amount of revenue raised through property taxes – by employing a number of strategies, including:
Allocating $930,222 in reserve funds.
Sharing transportation services with Cortland City School District, for the busing of special needs students.
Returning some administrative services from BOCES to the district.
Continuing to work with the Central New York Health Consortium, to find ways to reduce the district’s cost for employee benefits.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the Marcellus voters for approving this budget,” said board President Ryan Riefler. “Year after year, this community pledges its support for our critical mission to help students develop the responsibility, confidence and knowledge they need to thrive in a 21st century world. And we are grateful.”
Information about the 2016-17 School Budget Vote
Noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, in Groeling Auditorium, Marcellus High School, 1 Mustang Hill, Marcellus, NY 13108.
On the ballot:
2016-17 school budget proposition: $33,401,273;
Three seats on the MCS Board of Education; and
Marcellus Free Library budget proposition.
18 years of age or older;
District residency for at least 30 days prior to vote; and
No voter registration required.
Obtain an application at the district office or by calling District Clerk Kim LaRose at (315) 673-6210. Applications must be returned by May 10 if the absentee ballot is to be mailed to the voter or by May 16 if it will be picked up by the voter. Ballots must be returned no later than 5 p.m. May 17.
Volunteers will ask exiting voters to fill out a survey form. Participation is strictly voluntary and anonymous. The district will use data gleaned from the survey as one tool to listen to residents and guide decision-making.
April 20, 2016
Marcellus BOE adopts 2016-17 district budget proposal
On Monday, April 18, the Marcellus Board of Education adopted a $33,401,273 proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year. The budget calls for a 3.56 percent increase in spending over 2015-16 and carries a 1.99 percent tax levy increase, the maximum allowed for the district under the state’s tax levy limit law.
District residents will vote on the proposal between noon and 9 p.m. May 17.
The fiscal plan includes no program reductions, adds several teaching positions, increases athletic department staffing and provides for academic program enhancements.
Residents also will elect three members to the Board of Education and decide on a proposition to replace four school buses at a cost no greater than $444,932.
A third proposition asks voters to consider a levy increase for the Marcellus Free Library.
When district officials began budget development earlier this year, they initially projected a budget gap of about $912,717. Much of the deficit stemmed from increases in debt service (including interest payments associated with the $14.8 million capital project approved by voters last March), employee salaries and benefits.
In April, administrators and Board of Education members learned the district is slated to receive a budgeted increase of $461,602 or 3.47 percent in total aid from the state, which helped to close the district’s budget gap.
“We’re relieved state legislators voted to dismantle the Gap Elimination Adjustment—which siphoned away more than $9 million in state aid from Marcellus over the last six years—and return the district to solid financial footing,” Superintendent of Schools Judith Pastel said. “By adding a judicious amount of district reserves, we are able to propose a plan that increases staffing, curriculum and athletic support, while limiting the impact on our taxpayers.”
The proposed budget:
Allows for an additional kindergarten teacher (if 2016-17 enrollment warrants it) and adds three teacher aides/assistants at KCH Elementary.
Adds funding for an assistant principal position at Driver Middle School. This need was first identified during the 2015-16 year, and the board appointed an administrative intern to the role in October 2015. Also adds a 0.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) music teacher at DMS.
Adds a full-time career education teacher assistant, 0.5 FTE reading teacher, 0.6 FTE math teacher and full-time counseling office secretary at Marcellus High School.
Adds math software and curriculum at KCH and DMS.
Adds an athletics clerical support position and a stipend for an athletic department site supervisor and restores several coaching positions.
The annual school budget hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, May 9, in the Marcellus High School auditorium.
April 4, 2016
2016-17 state budget includes $1.5 billion education funding increase, ends GEA
On Friday, April 1, New York lawmakers approved a 2016-17 state budget that includes an overall $1.5 billion – or 6.5 percent – increase in education funding. The state budget ends the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has diverted billions of dollars from schools during the last seven years.
The Legislature’s vote on the budget came on the first day of the state’s new fiscal year. The finalized spending plan provides school districts with information about state aid revenue that is critical as they develop school budgets for the 2016-17 school year.
The bulk of the state aid increase will be split in three ways: a $627 million increase in Foundation Aid, $434 million to end the GEA and $341 million to reimburse schools for costs such as transportation, construction and BOCES services.
The budget also includes targeted funding for community school efforts in designated districts, an expansion of the statewide prekindergarten initiative for 3-year-olds and an increase in financial support for charter schools.
The Marcellus administration and Board of Education continue to develop a budget for the 2016-17 school year. Budget adoption is expected on April 18. A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, May 9, in Marcellus High School auditorium. The annual budget vote is Tuesday, May 17, noon to 9 p.m., at the high school. Please check the district website and your mail for budget updates over the next two months.
GEA eliminated, Foundation Aid increased
The state instituted the GEA in 2009-10 to help address its own budget shortfalls brought on by the fiscal crisis at that time. Since then, aid has been withheld from school districts across the state. Marcellus' cumulative share of withheld aid was $9.47 million. After six years, New York State legislators have put the district back on track.
The $627 million, or 4 percent, increase in Foundation Aid – the primary source of funding for everyday school operations – is the largest since the fiscal crisis began. This is well below the New York State Board of Regents’ recommendation of a $1.3 billion Foundation Aid increase for next year. Marcellus' share of that increase is $59,104, as the intent of the Foundation Aid formula is to direct money to high-need districts.
State aid will play an important role in the years ahead due to limitations in the tax levy cap.
Additional education policies and funding in the budget
The 2016-17 state budget also includes, or in some cases does not include, several other noteworthy items related to education:
Teacher/Principal Evaluations: The budget did not remove the requirement that, in order for schools to receive their state aid increases for this year and next, they must comply with the changes enacted last year to the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) law. APPR governs teacher and principal evaluations. Under the current law, districts must have an approved plan that meets the latest iteration of APPR regulations by Sept. 1, 2016, in order to receive state aid increases for both 2015-16 and 2016-17. Many districts are currently operating with waivers from last year’s changes and had advocated for action in the state budget to remove the possibility of losing aid due to APPR.
Community Schools: The budget includes $175 million to help implement community schools initiatives in certain designated high-needs districts and for schools that have been identified as failing by the state. Community school efforts can include academic, health and social services for students and families. As noted above, $100 million of this funding is from an increase included in Foundation Aid for certain schools.
Charter Schools: The state budget includes nearly $55 million in additional support for charter schools statewide through an increase of $430 per pupil to a total of $14,457. This represents growth of 3 percent in per pupil funding.
STAR: The state budget does not cap annual growth in the School Tax Relief (STAR) program at zero percent, as proposed by the governor in January.
Universal Prekindergarten: The budget continues an annual investment of $340 million to support prekindergarten programs across the state and calls for an expansion for 3-year-olds. As of this school year, 460 of the state’s 674 school districts offer prekindergarten slots to 120,582 children.
Want to learn more about what school district budgets pay for? Check out this Budget 101 video.
March 11, 2016
Budget 101 Infographic
Interested in learning more about how school districts like Marcellus develop a mulitmillion-dollar budget? Check out this Budget 101 infographic, which provides a simple, step-by-step overview of the annual school budget development process.
Jan. 27, 2016 First draft of 2016-17 budget presented to BOE
District Business Administrator Anthony Sonnacchiopresented the first draft of the 2016-17 school district budget to Marcellus Board of Education members during their regular Jan. 25 meeting. Board members received materials to be used throughout the process to ensure community members are presented with a budget that continues to provide Marcellus students with high-quality educational programming.
Mr. Sonnacchio explained the budget development process begins by rolling forward existing programs to 2016-2017 and applying appropriate cost increases for certain items. For next year the budget also incorporates expenditure increases for interest payments associated with the $14.8 million capital project, loan payments for the district’s energy performance contract and additional tuition for residential placements. Going forward, board members will consider other program changes and finalize the budget proposal by the second meeting in April.
Assuming state lawmakers opt to fully restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the district chooses to adopt a tax levy increase equal to the maximum allowable levy based on this year’s tax levy limit calculation (2.91 percent), Marcellus will face a budget gap of $537,398. Among the tools at the district’s disposal to close the gap are: use of reserve funds; outstanding expense-side variables (retirement contribution rates, health insurance premiums); reductions through attrition; other reductions; and increase in state aid through the legislative process.
Nov. 17, 2015 Board adopts 2016-17 budget calendar
At its Nov. 16 regular meeting, the Marcellus Board of Education adopted the 2016-17 Budget Development Calendar.