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ECS Board Lobbies for School Funding

By Jann Wiswall

Connie Hellwig, vice chair of the ECS Board of Education, attended the New York State School Boards Association’s (NYSSBA) Capital Conference in Albany last weekend. The meeting gave school board members from across the state an opportunity to learn about NYSSBA’s efforts to secure state funding for schools and for board members to talk with legislators about both local and state funding issues before the state budget is created.

Hellwig reported to the ECS board on Tuesday, March 1, that she had the opportunity to meet many other state school board members who share the same challenges on school funding, and all agree that the situation is getting more complicated.

She noted that NYSSBA is looking at proposing changes to the way Industrial Development Agencies calculate tax breaks for businesses that receive Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) incentives in order to reduce PILOT’s impact on school taxes.

ECS Superintendent Mark Ward, in his report to the board, shared information about the complexities of the budgeting process, not just at the state level but at the local level. Both Ward and Hellwig noted that the way the state is making its calculations, in this year’s budget, schools (and municipalities alike) will be permitted only a .12% “allowable levy growth,” or essentially zero.

“That doesn’t help,” Ward said. “Revenues stay flat, but costs go up — always.”

According to NYSSBA, such changes to the way caps are calculated “impede local school boards’ abilities to make the necessary decisions to generate adequate local funds and equitably distribute the associated tax.” Inflation alone is expected to be 2 percent in the year ahead, the association predicts.

Ward said he will be attending The Council of School Superintendents Winter Institute and Lobby Day in Albany this weekend where he, too, will have an opportunity to talk with legislators, including finance committee chair Catherine Young, about funding.

The board is already working on its 2016-17 budget.

In other news, the board accepted the resignation of school nurse Kimberly Watt, effective March 26.  Applications and interest in the position is strong, Ward said. The application deadline is March 14. Until a new nurse is in place, a substitute nurse is scheduled to fill in, and the school’s principals both will be formally trained to administer medications.

The school is seeking nominations for two seats on the board of education. They currently are held by Carl Calarco (board chair) and James Wiley.  Elections for the board of education will be held on May 17. Nominating petitions are due by Monday, April 18.  For full nominating instructions, visit the District Office during school operating hours.

The board will hold a budget work session on Tuesday, March 8. The work session scheduled for March 15 has been cancelled. The next regular board meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Library.

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