Final budget recommendations: zero percentage increase to tax levy

Central Valley. MWCSD superintendent said the rate is due to a state aid increase significant enough to give back to the taxpayers.

| 19 Apr 2023 | 04:36

Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez along with Assistant Superintendent for Business and Management Services Patrick Cahill took the podium to present the Superintendent’s Budget Recommendations for the 2023-24 year.

“I want to take a moment,” Rodriguez began, “to thank everyone who contributed to the development of this year’s superintendent budget presentation. It takes a lot of work and collaboration in developing a budget that supports the needs of the students and staff with consideration to the taxpayers.”

The first of the four budget priorities were safety and security. Said Rodriguez, “We have taken a multi-prong approach to safety and security.” Rodriguez said, noting the district-wide safety audit, radios to ensure communication in an emergency, the construction of some security vestibules, a credential exchange for visitors in the buildings, drills, and school resource officers and safety officers in every building. “It remains our number one priority,” she said.

This past December when the voters didn’t approve the capital project, the district sent out a survey, and the feedback suggested that the costs of the proposition were too high, and they recommended that smaller projects be considered and have them included in the general budget.

To address that suggestion, the budget now includes a mechanism called a “transfer to capital.” It allows the District to fund a capital project and bus purchases rather than have a separate proposition, which this year includes the purchase of five buses and the construction of a security vestibule at Central Valley at the cost of $1,150,000 dollars.

Second on the list of priorities was remaining responsive to the changing needs of the students, and after surveying the students for feedback, the district is now offering an additional section in Science Research; an additional section of Music Production; and a new program on Cybersecurity.

“It is important,” said Rodriguez, “that our course offerings prepare our students not only for today, but for future years.” The last two priorities were maintaining the instructional staff, and staff and professional development.”

After providing the extensive formula for the “2023-24 M-W 2% Tax Cap,” Rodriguez said that there is a zero increase to the tax levy for the coming year. It’s important to note, she said, that this is due to the state aid increase of 21.8%, significant enough to give back to the taxpayers. In the slide that featured the historical tax levy percent changes of the last 19 years, this year is the first with a zero-increase percentage: in 2004-5, the levy was at its highest at 6.99% and 2012-13 showed the lowest percentage of 0.89%. Rodriguez then pulled up the Total General Fund Budget slide, which showed a proposed budget of $213,115,925, which she considered “modest.” Part of the presentation also covered the Contingency Budget, should the original budget not pass.

Before moving on to other business, Rodriguez listed the upcoming key dates for the budget vote: the Public Budget Hearing (May 3); mailers go out to the community (May 5); the budget vote at Central Valley (May 16), and should the budget not pass, a second voting opportunity (June 20). Rodriguez stated that since the vote was going to be held at Central Valley, she announced a Superintendent’s Conference Day for that day so that there would not be any students in the building.

The Board voted unanimously to adopt the Superintendent Budget.

Students make requests
Three MW students took the podium during the Comments portion of the meeting to make requests on three separate issues.
First was a request from Jacob Ciriello, who petitioned the board to increase the number of productions provided by MW drama club. At present, MW only puts on one play and one musical, however, Ciriello noted that a school with the population of MW is able to offer up to three to four productions a year so more students could take part in the productions, and those who in the past have had to choose between a sport and being in the plays could do both.
Second, Tyler Landusky, who requested the creation of the MW Drama Club (which is not an official club) and to allocate monies from the budget to help defray costs of the expensive productions. As it was noted that the district spends a great deal on athletic field improvements, it was asked that the Drama Club be given the same status as a varsity sport.
Lastly, Matthew Raymond-Lowe requested that he be given consideration to attend the BOCES Fire Science program, now only available to MW seniors, as his aim is to go into a firefighting career, he would like to start this program as a junior, to follow in the footsteps of other firefighting family members.
The Board acknowledged their requests, and praised the students for standing up for something they believe it and being eloquent in their presentations.