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SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT: PYCSD weighs budget uncertainties, board reduction

Superintendent Howard Dennis
Special to The Chronicle-Express

PENN YAN – The Penn Yan Central School District held a Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. The agenda for this meeting included an update on the PYE plan to Celebrate Down's Syndrome Awareness Day and a 2021-22 budget update.

The budget update included information surrounding the most recent draft of the proposed budget. This year's budget process has been complicated by the approach to laying out the proposed budget in these uncertain times. In fact the service that the District uses with state aid planning has been quoted as saying that "they have never seen a budget like this in the 16 years they have been doing the job."

The Governor is currently proposing to use all of the $6 billion received from the federal government to balance funding for schools this year. This could leave a significant hole to fill for next year in education funding.

The aid that is normally received by schools is also being proposed to change. This will add another unknown component to the budget process. Schools are also still unsure if they will be receiving funding to cover the costs of mandated services from the last year during the pandemic. The tax cap this year also is much lower than in the past because of the economic impact of COVID.

Finally, the most basic aid that schools receive has been frozen at the 2019-2020 levels again for another year. As is the case in all of our homes, costs go up from year to year.

Currently, the budget-to-budget increase for the district is 3.27%. The projected tax levy increase is 1.86%, and the cap is currently at 1.85%. The Board is continuing to work through the budget process and work on reducing the amount of the budget while maintaining programs and offerings that make Penn Yan students successful as they move out into the workforce or college. We will continue to adjust the spending and revenue sections of the budget and reduce the overall expenditures so that we can bring an acceptable budget to the voters.

Additionally, the district has accepted the retirement notification from Cathy Milliman, Assistant Superintendent for Business. The district has posted the position and will be working through the hiring process over the next couple of months to fill the position.

Lastly, the district had a discussion of the reasons for and against the possibility of reducing the number of seats on the Board from nine to seven. This idea has come up over time as the district struggles to have enough people to run for the Board at times. This would have to be voted on at the annual meeting/budget vote if it is decided to move forward.

Howard Dennis is superintendent of the Penn Yan Central School District.

Superintendent Howard Dennis