Voters approve 2017-18 budget, elect two BOE members
On May 16, Marcellus Central School District voters approved the district’s $34.4 million 2017-18 budget proposal and elected two Board of Education members.
Approved a $34,392,500 budget for the 2017-18 school year that increases spending 2.97 percent ($999,227), and carries a 1.98 percent tax levy increase: 527 yes, 213 no.
Approved the purchase of four school buses and one passenger van at a cost no greater than $262,074: 545 yes, 195 no.
Re-elected one Board of Education and voted in one newcomer: Dr. David Locastro (504 votes) and Margaret Vensel (612 votes). They will serve three-year terms starting July 1.
Approved the establishment of a capital reserve fund to which the district may add surplus funds, up to $5 million, over a 10-year period: 526 yes, 211 no.
Approved an annual budget increase of $10,062 for Marcellus Free Library: 510 yes, 229 no.
“I want to thank all our residents who found time in their busy schedules to get to the polls today,” Superintendent of Schools Michelle L. Brantner said. “A school district is only as strong as the community that supports it, and tonight in Marcellus we’re feeling that support.”
The 2017-18 tax levy increase of 1.98 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. The 2017-18 budget was approved by 71 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 $1,349,439 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 next year’s budget,” said board President Ryan Riefler. “Thanks to their support, Marcellus can continue its mission of preparing students to be productive citizens of a 21st century world.”
May 9, 2017
Two candidates seek seats on the Marcellus Board of Education
Marcellus residents on May 16 will elect two members of the Board of Education to each serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2017, and ending June 30, 2020.
Two candidates filed nominating petitions for the available seats. Their names will appear on the ballot in the following, randomly selected order:
Dr. David Locastro, of Marcellus, is seeking a third term on the Board of Education. Dr. Locastro and wife Amy have four children: Maddy, 18, a 2016 graduate of Marcellus High School currently volunteering in South America; Katherine, 17, a junior at the high school; Lilly, 14, a sophomore; and Ben, 9, a third-grader at K.C. Heffernan Elementary School.
Dr. Locastro has lived in the district for 20 years and works as a self-employed physician.
Margaret Vensel, of Marcellus, is seeking a first term on the Board of Education. Ms. Vensel and husband David have three children: Baillie, 22, a 2012 Marcellus alumna who graduated last year from Smith College; Abigail, 20, a 2015 Marcellus alumna now enrolled at State University of New York at Geneseo; and Grace, 17, a senior at Marcellus High School.
Ms. Vensel holds a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene education from California University and works as a dental hygienist at Fallon & Fallon Family Dentistry. She also is a member of the Marcellus High School site-based team, as well as a volunteer with the high school parent group, the districtwide ice cream social committee and the After the Ball committee.
“I have been involved in the Marcellus School District for the past 12 years in various capacities,” Ms. Vensel said. “I have always been an advocate for our children and their education.”
“As my youngest daughter will be graduating in June, I seek the Board of Education seat to continue my involvement and to positively influence our growth as a district,” she continued. “I am passionate about providing not only the best education for our children, but also in building an atmosphere that will foster their social and emotional needs, as well.”
May 4, 2017
Understanding the propositions that will appear on the ballot May 16
In the last of a series of videos about the proposed 2017-18 school district budget, Superintendent of Schools Michelle Brantner and Business Administrator Anthony Sonnacchio review the four propositions that will appear on the ballot on May 16.
May 3, 2017
Voters to consider bus purchase proposition
On May 16, voters will consider a separate proposition to purchase four 30-passenger school buses (two equipped with wheelchair lifts) and one seven-passenger van for a total cost not to exceed $262,074. The state would reimburse the district for approximately 74 percent (or about $193,935) of the cost of the buses. The remainder would come from local property taxes.
The proposed bus purchases are part of an ongoing 10-year bus replacement plan designed to ensure students are transported on buses that meet the latest safety standards, according to Transportation Director Susan Stearns. The use of a replacement plan is a more cost-effective way to approach transportation purchases; it provides better warranty coverage and resale value. The four vehicles targeted for trade-in during the 2017-18 school year currently have a combined mileage of 449,000.
May 2, 2017
Understanding the role of state aid in developing a school district budget
In her latest video about the 2017-18 school budget development process, Marcellus Superintendent of Schools Michelle L. Brantner explains the different categories of education aid the district receives from New York state.
Stay tuned for an additional video about the specific propositions that will appear on the ballot May 16.
May 1, 2017
District proposes new capital reserve fund
On May 16, the Marcellus Central School District will ask voters for authorization to create a capital reserve fund.
A capital reserve fund allows the district to set aside money for future construction projects and major purchases, much like a savings account. The fund cannot be established without voter approval, nor can reserve funds be spent without voter approval.
Money for a capital reserve fund comes from general fund money that remains unspent at the end of each fiscal year—meaning the capital reserve fund is filled with money voters already approved to be spent and that the district managed to save through prudent planning. Creation of the fund, therefore, will have no new tax impact.
The fund is limited; it cannot grow larger than the amount voters authorized at the time it was established. If approved by district voters, Marcellus’ capital reserve fund will be established for a period of 10 years, and can be funded up to a maximum of $5 million.
After 10 years, the district must spend the money or voters have to re-authorize the fund.
April 27, 2017
Residents to vote on proposed 2017-18 budget on May 16
On Tuesday, May 16, Marcellus Central School District residents will vote on the district’s proposed $34,392,500 budget for the 2017-18 school year. The budget calls for a 2.97 percent increase in spending over 2016-17 and carries a 1.98 percent tax levy increase, the maximum allowed for the spending plan to pass with a simple majority.
The fiscal plan includes no program reductions, adds some staffing, creates a more efficient, centralized copying center and includes a $200,000 capital outlay for sidewalk repairs, replacement of concrete stairs leading from DMS to the upper field and replacement of the high school bleachers. Capital outlay projects receive approximately 81 percent state reimbursement.
Polls are open noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 16, in Groeling Auditorium at Marcellus High School, 1 Mustang Hill, Marcellus, NY 13108.
Also on the ballot
Residents also will elect two members to the Board of Education and decide on a proposition to replace four school buses and one passenger van at a cost no greater than $262,074.
A third proposition asks voters to allow the Board of Education to create a capital reserve fund to assist with future construction, reconstruction, renovation and equipment purchases. If voters approve this proposition, money could be added to the capital reserve fund if there is a surplus at the end of the year. The Board may authorize funding of the reserve with some or all of the surplus, up to $5 million over a 10-year period.
A fourth proposition asks voters to consider a levy increase for the Marcellus Free Library.
Closing the gap
When district officials began budget development earlier this year, they projected a budget gap of $566,374.
“Much of the initial gap stemmed from a less-than-desirable increase in state aid, along with rising costs for debt service, employee salaries and benefits and the addition of two teaching positions to maintain class sizes at fifth grade and provide programs for students with disabilities,” Marcellus Business Administrator Anthony Sonnacchio said.
In April, administrators and Board of Education members were pleased to learn the district would receive an increase of $269,151 or 1.96 percent in total aid from the state, which helped to close the district’s budget gap. The district will make up for the remaining shortfall by increasing next year’s fund balance appropriation by $419,217.
“This proposed budget maintains the exceptional educational programming our community has come to expect from Marcellus Central Schools,” Superintendent Michelle L. Brantner said. “At the same time, it recognizes the financial limits of our taxpayers, by employing cost-saving measures and appropriating a prudent
amount of fund balance.”
The proposed budget:
Adds a full-time elementary teacher.
Adds a special education teacher.
Increases capacity of a part-time technology integration specialist by one day per week.
Creates a stipend for staff oversight of auditorium facilities at DMS and the high school.
Adds a centralized copying center to increase efficiency.
Increases the capital outlay budget by $100,000 to replace the high school bleachers.
April 21, 2017
Superintendent explains the 2017-18 proposed budget
In her latest video about the 2017-18 school budget development process, Marcellus Superintendent of Schools Michelle L. Brantner explains what's included in the proposed spending plan adopted by the Board of Education on April 10.
Stay tuned for additional videos about state aid and the specific propositions that will appear on the ballot May 16.
April 11, 2017
Board of Education adopts 2017-18 budget proposal
On Monday, April 10, the Marcellus Board of Education adopted a $34,392,500 proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year. The budget calls for a 2.9 percent increase in spending over 2016-17 and carries a 1.98 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 16. The annual school budget hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, May 8, in the Marcellus High School auditorium.
The fiscal plan includes no program reductions, adds some staffing, creates a more efficient, centralized copying center and includes a $100,000 capital outlay to replace the high school bleachers.
On May 16, residents also will elect two members to the Board of Education and consider three propositions: to replace four school buses and one passenger van at a cost no greater than $262,074; to create a capital reserve fund to pay for future construction, reconstruction, renovation and equipment purchases; and to increase the Marcellus Free Library budget.
Stay tuned in coming weeks for more detailed information on the district website budget page and in the printed budget newsletter that comes in the mail.
March 9, 2017
2017-18 Budget: Understanding how school budgets are balanced
Each year, school boards in New York must develop a balanced school budget proposal for the following school year and put it to a public vote on the third Tuesday in May. The requirement for a balanced school budget is challenging when a district’s anticipated expenses exceed anticipated revenue. Finding a balance might require budget reductions and/or tax levy increases or using excess fund balance.
Governor outlines school aid proposal and educational initiatives in Executive Budget Proposal
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a state budget proposal on Tuesday, Jan. 17, that includes a $1 billion increase in overall funding for the state’s schools in the 2017-18 school year. The governor’s plan includes targeted funding to support high-need districts with community schools, pre-kindergarten and after-school programs, and discontinuing the use of the original Foundation Aid Formula in determining future state aid increases.
Marcellus is not considered a high-need district. Therefore, its share of the governor’s aid proposal results in an overall increase of 0.81 percent, or $111,002.
“While we recognize the struggles of students in high-need districts, we are concerned about the minimal aid increase Marcellus will realize from the governor’s budget proposal,” Marcellus Business Administrator Anthony Sonnacchio said. “If additional aid is not realized through the state’s legislative process, property taxes will need to increase by more than three times next year’s property levy limit (or an estimated 4.7 percent) to maintain existing programs. We are hopeful state representatives recognize the limitations created by the property tax levy limit and will propose additional funding above and beyond that which was proposed by Governor Cuomo.”
Budget 2017-18: Superintendent talks about debt service
In the third in a series of videos about developing the 2017-18 school district budget, Superintendent of Schools Michelle L. Brantner explains how management of the district's debt service influences budget development and future capital project planning. She also addresses the governor's proposed budget, which was unveiled last month.
Jan. 13, 2017
Budget 2017-18: How enrollment, graduation requirements affect 7-12 staffing
In the second in a series of videos about developing the 2017-18 school district budget, Marcellus Superintendent of Schools Michelle L. Brantner explains how enrollment figures, graduation requirements and state regulations affect staffing decisions for grades 7-12.
As part of the 2017-18 budget development process, Marcellus Superintendent of Schools Michelle L. Brantner plans to release a series of videos explaining the various factors that contribute to building the school district budget. In this first video, she discusses the district's K-6 staffing and enrollment.